Looking Beyond the Mark


HebrewTav1It the LDS Church today, we often hear the phrase, “Looking Beyond the Mark.” Those who read the scriptures know this comes from the book of Jacob in the Book of Mormon. This is a uniquely LDS phrase, not found in the Bible. Jacob was teaching the people about Christ, who, of course, is the mark in question. Keep that in mind. Christ is the mark, not the LDS Church.

Anything that causes you to look past Christ for salvation is looking beyond the mark. Anything that takes you away from coming unto Christ is looking beyond the mark. Anyone who stands in between you and your Savior can cause you to look beyond the mark. Anything, any system, any person or any church that purports to be able to save you is deflecting your view from the mark.

From this verse, sermons have been preached, lessons have been written, actions have been justified and individuals have been condemned. Ironically, when someone focuses on coming unto Christ, and doing all within their power to respond to the promptings of the spirit, others may perceive them as engaging in a gospel hobby, accusing them of looking beyond the mark.

Here is the verse in question:

“But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble.” (Jacob 4:14)

Elder Cook spoke about this subject. He said, “Today there is a tendency among some of us to ‘look beyond the mark’ rather than to maintain a testimony of gospel basics. We do this when we substitute the philosophies of men for gospel truths, engage in gospel extremism, seek heroic gestures at the expense of daily consecration, or elevate rules over doctrine. Avoiding these behaviors will help us avoid the theological blindness and stumbling that Jacob described.”

Most Apostles Understand the Doctrine

Elder Cook got it … sort of. I like the phrase “maintain a testimony of gospel basics,” but I’m fairly certain he would not discount these words from Joseph when he said, “I would exhort you to go on and continue to call upon God until you make your calling and election sure for yourselves, by obtaining this more sure word of prophecy, and wait patiently for the promise until you obtain it.” (TPJS, p 299)

Roy Doxy, when he was dean emeritus of Religious Instruction at Brigham Young University taught this important doctrine in the July 1976 Ensign. This one article alone answered so many questions for me back when I preparing for my mission. I have treasured it and wondered why we have not had more articles, talks or lessons like this in our correlated instructional material.

https://www.lds.org/ensign/1976/07/accepted-of-the-lord-the-doctrine-of-making-your-calling-and-election-sure?lang=eng

The reason I think Elder Cook understands this doctrine is because he clearly points out the mark is Christ. It is only the gospel of Christ, the doctrine of Christ that saves. Elder Cook concluded, “One of the great challenges of this life is to accept Christ for who He is: the resurrected Savior of the world, our Redeemer, our Lord and Master, our Advocate with the Father.

“When He is the foundation for all that we do and are, we avoid the theological blindness that results from looking beyond the mark, and we reap the glorious blessings He has promised us. ‘Come unto me, ye blessed,’ He tells those who follow Him; ‘there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father’ (Enos 1:27).”

Source: https://www.lds.org/ensign/2003/03/looking-beyond-the-mark?lang=eng

The Doctrine Has Been Watered Down

Elder Dean Larson spoke on the same subject back in 1987. He used a sports analogy to describe the importance of staying within the circle, which he called the mark. Although He noted the importance of faith in the redeeming role of the Messiah, he said the mark was wisdom and prudence, equating it to a circle of fundamental gospel truths, providing a basis for that faith. I wish he had been as plain as Elder Cook in stating Christ is the mark to whom we should look.

Source: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1987/10/looking-beyond-the-mark?lang=eng

For a good, although lengthy analysis of the phrase, Paul Y. Hoskisson, professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University, published an essay in 2007 that includes the classic symbolic themes and metaphors of gospel hobbies, sin, pride, wealth, and strengths that become weakness (see Elder Oaks, “Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall,” BYU, June 1992). In other words, anything that distracts from the target, or the mark of Christ, is to be avoided.

Source: http://rsc.byu.edu/archived/selected-articles/looking-beyond-mark

From Matthew Faulconer’s blog, “Feast Upon the Word,” we read:

“…looking beyond Christ could mean a number of things. It could imply that one is looking to be saved by actions, ordinances, or even associations with other people, rather than looking to the atonement of Jesus Christ for salvation. One reason it may be easy to look beyond the mark in this sense is that it is easier to gain an assurance of our salvation through a tangible feeling or action rather than a quiet voice or a small feeling that takes time to understand.”

Source: http://feastupontheword.org/Jacob_4:1-18

Some Doctrines Take More Study and Thought

Elder Oaks offered the following in a BYU Idaho devotional 7 Nov 2006:

“My second subject of wisdom concerns looking beyond the mark. In the Book of Mormon the Prophet Jacob described a people who ‘despised the words of plainness, . . . and sought for things . . . they could not understand’ (Jacob 4:14).  He said this caused them to fall because when persons are ‘looking beyond the mark,’ God takes away plainness and gives them what they sought–things they cannot understand.

“We see this today. For example, some persons write General Authorities asking when we will be returning to Missouri or how we should plan to build up the New Jerusalem.  Others want to know details about the Celestial Kingdom, such as the position of a person who lives a good life but never ever marries.

“I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. What I do know is that persons worrying about such things are probably neglecting to seek a firmer understanding and a better practice of the basic principles of the gospel that have been given to them with words of plainness by the scriptures and by the servants of the Lord

“If we neglect the words of plainness and look beyond the mark, we are starting down a path that often leads to a loss of commitment and sometimes to a loss of faith. There is enough difficulty in following the words of plainness, without reaching out for things we have not been given and probably cannot understand.”

Source: http://www2.byui.edu/Presentations/Transcripts/Devotionals/2006_11_07_Oaks.htm

Seeking the Second Comforter IS the Mark

I think that’s enough detail from words of prophets, apostles, general authorities and scriptural commentary to make a point. I won’t get into the other common definition of the mark, as found in Ezekiel 9:4-6. It is the mark or anointing placed in the forehead of suffering saints who sigh and cry for the sins of those in their cities. The mark is placed there by their attending angels.

The point is this: Seeking to enter into the presence of the Lord in this mortal life is NOT looking beyond the mark. It is NOT a gospel hobby. It is NOT gospel extremism. Seeking to receive the Second Comforter is NOT something of which we need to repent. It is something we need to do. It is not spiritual blindness. It is having one’s eyes opened. The Lord is not saddened by our efforts in this area, even when they are misunderstood and result in being disciplined by others.

I suspect when scriptures or doctrines are understood differently by individuals, the tendency is to say the other person is suffering from “blindness [that] came from looking beyond the mark.” It’s a polite way of throwing one’s hands up in the air, saying, “You don’t get it, do you? Why can’t you see it the same way I do? Oh, I get it. You’re blinded. You refuse to see the truth.” With such thinking, they go on their way, feeling secure and justified in their own conclusions.

Discussion versus Contention

That’s a sad way of relating to others. Wouldn’t it be a better idea to try to understand the other’s point of view? I confess I have been guilty of impatience in relating to others, both in person and here on my blog. For that I apologize. I love discussion, but abhor contention. I am a witness that contention causes the spirit to withdraw. So does taking offense. I’m preaching to myself here.

Most of my readers know I have withdrawn my membership from the LDS Church. I’ve tried to share my reasons why. I’ve had my share of public and private dialogs and conversations about my decision. Most have tried to be understanding and kind. I appreciate that. I don’t endorse my path for anyone unless God tells you. I received that confirmation as the best for my situation.

If I come to regret my decision, feel I’ve made a mistake and desire to be readmitted by baptism to the LDS Church, I must receive approval of a representative of the First Presidency, this even though I was not placed under formal probation before I resigned. This is understandable. In my blog, I have been clear I felt the Lord sent a servant with a message from outside the hierarchy.

Concluding Thoughts Going Forward

I seek to come unto Christ. I made a decision to be baptized in a manner that is slightly different from the way it is done in the LDS Church today. I also decided to participate in the sacrament in a slightly different manner from the way it is administered in the LDS Church today. Finally, I practice an order of prayer learned in a sacred place that I feel brings more power into my life.

I like to think I have kept all the good things I had in the LDS Church. I have disagreements with the manner in which the church is trying to control those who blog as a way of learning things. I am certain of the path I have chosen. Much like Brigham Young, I studied it for years before I acted. I take that back. I acted the first night I read the message. I prayed and asked God about it.

I recognize what I have done is unusual, different, unorthodox and certainly not the path that is accepted by the LDS Church. Thus, I resigned, knowing I would eventually be excommunicated. Why? Because I will not, I cannot deny what I have learned through study and prayer. Many claim I have been deceived. Perhaps. We shall see. I thank you for your prayers in my behalf.

 

38 Responses

  1. “Our approach to gaining a relationship with the Son should be like that of our enjoyment of the sun – indirect. That is, entering into His presence is a by-product. It is as a result of the way you live. It is not the “goal.”

    To approach Him, you must live as He did. You must “keep His commandments.” You must love others. You must live the way He lived.When you are walking in the same path He walked, you will find that He is walking there still. He will come alongside you, as you are “in the way” and will open to your understanding all things which He would have you know.”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Doctrine and Covenants 101:38
    38 And seek the face of the Lord always, that in patience ye may possess your souls, and ye shall have eternal life.

    Ether 4:13
    13 Come unto me, O ye Gentiles, and I will show unto you the greater things, the knowledge which is hid up because of unbelief.

    Ether 12:28
    28 Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me—the fountain of all righteousness.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Doctrine and Covenants 93:1
      1 Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am.

      Doctrine and Covenants 82:10
      10 I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you Tim for the blog. In patience I too seek the face of our Lord….in spite of my weakness….and I do appreciate the comments of that logarithm fellow. :).

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Log on

    Great comment. Amen

    Tyson, while I agree spiritual experiences alone are not the goal and we cannot ask to consume upon our lusts, we ought to seek them always because we know through spiritual experiences we learn the truth. Revelation is used to teach not simply to help us feel good. We don’t seek a visitation from the Savior so we can simply see Him but so that we can be taught.

    One of my favorite verses is a teaching of Lehi to one of his sons. He told him that he knew he would be redeemed “because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer”

    He didn’t teach him that he would be redeemed from his actions or his own righteousness but because of Christs righteousness. Very profound

    Liked by 1 person

    • Minorityofone, fyi, Log is just “Log”, not “Log on” – when he makes a comment it appears as “Log, on [date]” just like yours looks like “Minorityofone, on [date]”

      Liked by 1 person

    • I left out the reference. The reference was Denver Snuffer. You can google it for the blog post.

      I agree with your post 🙂

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    • Very good point, MoO. Our works are “dross” compared to Christ’s…unless they are done under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Then they are His works and we have nothing of which to boast. They are not our works.

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  5. This is beautiful, thank you. I have thought about this and also pondered “the mark” or missing the mark. A thought came to my mind about this. The Savior is the mark, but he was also the ONLY one marked…in his hands, in his feet, and in his side. It is ONLY through him that salvation will come. It is when we see his face and feel his MARKS…it is really that simple and that plain.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Galatians 6:17
      17 From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

      I’m not sure what Paul meant.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Perhaps he was like padre pio : )

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      • Paul was scourged, stoned and abused for Christ’s sake. He bore the scars to prove it. They were the “marks of the Lord Jesus” in his body.

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  6. It is a conviction of mine that unless we have heard it directly from the mouth of the Lord, or experienced it directly, we do not know it.

    Therefore, I think it might be appropriate to ask: how is it known that “the mark” is Christ? I have my doubts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It could perhaps be the atonement of Christ. Here is the context:

      4 For, for this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us.

      5 Behold, they believed in Christ and worshiped the Father in his name, and also we worship the Father in his name. And for this intent we keep the law of Moses, it pointing our souls to him; and for this cause it is sanctified unto us for righteousness, even as it was accounted unto Abraham in the wilderness to be obedient unto the commands of God in offering up his son Isaac, which is a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son.

      . . .

      11 Wherefore, beloved brethren, be reconciled unto him through the atonement of Christ, his Only Begotten Son, and ye may obtain a resurrection, according to the power of the resurrection which is in Christ, and be presented as the first-fruits of Christ unto God, having faith, and obtained a good hope of glory in him before he manifesteth himself in the flesh.

      12 And now, beloved, marvel not that I tell you these things; for why not speak of the atonement of Christ, and attain to a perfect knowledge of him, as to attain to the knowledge of a resurrection and the world to come?

      . . .

      Verse 14 – containing the quote about looking beyond the mark

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  7. “In other words, anything that districts from the target, or the mark of Christ, is to be avoided.”

    Is that supposed to read, “distracts”?

    Good stuff as always, Tim.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jaxon: fixed. Thanks for the correction. Cheers.

      Like

      • You’re welcome! Hope all is well.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. OK. Here I go preaching to the choir on this blog…

    Elder Lynn G. Robbins gave a hard line talk.

    Not only did he immediately follow President Packer, but he also admitted that he (Robbins) was his protege.

    Robbins firmly said that the Seventy represent the Prophet to the people and NOT vice-versa.

    Now I am a great believer in economization…

    And Christ is our advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1, D&C 38:4). He pleads our case before the Father.

    Our devotion should thus be directed to the Savior who can redeem us from sin rather than mortal Church leaders who do not represent us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tom

      I noticed the same thing! So many little half truths that irk me and it is like nails on a chalk board to hear

      Liked by 2 people

    • Tom: Thanks for adding this astute observation. I learned this lesson long ago in the business world. No matter how much I appreciated managing people in my department, I was always reminded by my employer I worked for him, especially when it came time to “adjust head counts” – a cold way of saying firing someone.

      The same thing applies in the LDS Church. Bishops and Stake Presidents get their marching orders from General Authorities and ultimately from a body of fifteen men members sustain and uphold by their faith and prayers. Therefore membership in the LDS Church is at the whim of these mortal men.

      Contrast that with membership in the Church of the Lamb, the Church of the Firstborn. There is only one who stands between us and the Father. Thus, we should do all within our power to come into his presence, to be made worthy by his atoning power. He only can bring us into the presence of the Father.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I apologize LOG I don’t know why my brain kept thinking it must be log on.

    I think the “mark” could just as well be charity and truth. The beauty is that God is love and God is truth.

    Christ is the gospel and therefore all truth is the mark as confirmed by the Holy Ghost. Truth ought to always lead to love unless we hate the truth.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Stockoneder

    Sorry this is a response to something that was replied to a few articles ago but it may be of interest to some who have not come across this.

    In the bible translation grow Hebrew and Greek pneuma and ruach have always been the words used for the English translation of “Holy Spirit” or spirit. Both words are female words. Through the whole Old Testament there was never anything to show that the spirit was male.

    In the New Testament the exact same words were used. During the translation from Greek and Hebrew to English translaters had the bright idea to start translating the same words to Holy Ghost instead of Holy Spirit. They wanted to differentiate because they saw a problem in verses like “father, son, and Holy Spirit…” They didn’t think a female word belonged with a male god that was one (the trinity). There is no difference in the words Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit in translation. And Holy Ghost was never around and is not mentioned in the Old Testament.

    In the Book of Mormon translation from the words of jacob and nephi they would have never read of a male spirit unless they had access to scriptures in the Old Testament that differentiated between a male and female spirit.

    In jacob 6 when he lists the Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost in the same sentence this is so curious because if he was writing in the way the Jews did it would have been the same word twice in a row. Joseph translated it correctly we presume and therefore in the Book of Mormon there has to be a difference between what the Holy Spirit is and the Holy Ghost.

    Otherwise it is evidence that the translation was not divinely inspired because there should have absolutely been no difference in translating one word and joseph would have translated it the same. I hope this makes sense. So I would ask if anyone can tell me what the difference between Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost are? Is there a difference? Is there a reason Holy Spirit is derived from a female word?

    Stockone

    You seem to think lectures on faith was absolute truth. In my reading lectures on faith teaches that the Holy Ghost is not a separate personage from God, but rather it is the influence of the Fathers spirit.

    Is this the truth or did joseph learn something more as he progressed in revelation? What if all of the Book of Mormon teaches of God the Father and when we are ready to receive the sealed portion we will learn all about the Mother and Her side of things? Gods work is not done and all truth has not been revealed to the world. There is more to learn.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Funny you bring that up. I’ve been contemplating that for days now. It would be so wonderful to know more about her and more about what my devine role as a female is.

      Wouldn’t it be a huge test of faith for many members of the church if we are able to finally read the sealed portion and it is many female Prophetess’s words. What an interesting view we would get to read concerning our Lord and Savior. Just a thought.

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      • Adrianne

        Thank you! People may think it is a bit goofy but I am entirely convinced that Nephi’s wife and other women kept records as well as their husbands and there were many great prophetesses and we have not been worthy as a people because of the mistreatment of women.

        What if the lost tribes baptize in the name of the Mother, Daughter, and Holy Spirit? Ha ha that is kind of out there but it will be neat to see when it all comes together.

        I have been thinking that women will get the priesthood when Heavenly Mother gives it to them (or activates it in them) and it may not be able to be given by men. Either way I have a testimony that much of what is coming has to do with us learning the great power and authority of women that has been covered and suppressed by the world. God bless!

        Like

        • Purely out of curiosity. What do you think about receiving the fullness of the priest/priestesshood only as a partnership when a husband and wife finally learn how to become one like Mother and Father?

          Sorry Tim. I’m getting way off topic.

          Like

  11. Sometimes I feel like saying stuff but it doesn’t really pertain to the post at hand; suffer, o ye audience.

    Snuffer said something about people being deceived by false spirits.

    Obey the voice which tells you to do good through self-sacrifice. Be courageous in following it. Pray always for the Holy Ghost.

    Deny the voice which tells you that you’re right and they’re wrong and you need to correct them.

    Zion shall not feature busybodies or doctrinal doctors, who prescribe creeds. Nobody likes that crap.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. If LDS conference left you wanting then hear his Truths from the youth. Cheers, David Park.

    “In response to request, I will give my rather unprepared and humble opinion on the temple. I think that to be able to effectively analyze any gospel subject, one must take a step back and attempt to understand the symbolism. Thus attempting to unveil telluric rites and find light and truth. I think it is important to note that I know very little, if anything, about why God has established a pattern of temples and rites. I thus invite you to read carefully and with the Spirit.

    To start in a benignly nonpartisan manner (not to suggest that this letter in it´s entirety will be nonpartisan), I would like to first share how incredibly advantageous my experience with sacred symbolism has been. Participating in a celestial endowment of light and truth has allowed me to know ever more of the majesty and character of the great Creator. It has challenged me to very literally employ the ¨eyes of faith¨ which are needed to gain any benefit and has brought me newly to repentance. With that being said, and with the audience considered, I find a greater necessity in stressing the literal nature and ¨cause¨ of temple worship (I use the word ¨cause¨ in reference to my letter several months back about repentance).

    I believe that Joseph Smith put it best when he described the purpose of temples in that it is to “reveal unto His (God´s) people the ordinances of His house and the glories of His kingdom, and teach the people the way of salvation.” The temple is a pantomimic tool that allows those who desire to undertand the path of salvation. I say pantomimic not out of irreverence, but rather because participation in ordinances does NOT ensure validity, for that is the role of the Holy Spirit of promise (D&C 132-133), but that is another subject. Rites and ordinances were and are established as signs and shadows to direct our attention to heaven. We learn in Hebrews 8:5 that the priests who worked at the sanctuary ¨serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.¨ and again in chapter 10:1 ¨For the law having a shadow of good things to come and not the very image of the things.¨ Although participation in ordinance is ordained of the Lord, it should not be confused as the end in itself.

    The same path which all those before who have returned to the Father must be equally followed by every other who searches the same. The scriptures take a fundamental role in decoding ordinances as we know that the Lord, and His ways, are the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Joseph Smith also explained that if you believe that God is a respector of persons, that He has done something for someone that He will not do for you or any other, now or at any time, faith cannot exist within you, for doubt will enter in your heart. What our fathers before us have done to return to the throne of the Father, so must we.

    Now, with that being said, what is this ¨way of salvation?¨ What is it that we are truly learning within the walls of the temple, in these ordinances, or in the scriptures, or in all things. For it is the same, there is NOTHING learned within the temple that can´t be learned outside of it. If you disagree, you have misunderstood the scriptures. The brother of Jared was clearly successful in such. Adam, and his children also in a chain of salvation; Adam, Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch (who walked with God), Methuselah, Lamech, and Noah. However, in mercy, the Lord gives us tools. He has given us temples to attempt to redirect our attention back to our purpose as offspring of God (Acts 17: 29) (in fact, it would be rather interesting to note that the very appearance of temples is product of human apostasy, but there isn´t time to talk about that today). And there is only ONE purpose. Redemption.

    The fall can be simply defined as the separation of man from God. To be redeemed thus can be defined as the reverse process, or coming newly to His presence. Newly we remember the brother of Jared ¨…behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said: Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you.¨ (Ether 3).

    The temple teaches us this same process. It puts us, just as the scriptures do, in the shoes of someone to learn something. The endowment used to include the words, “You should consider yourselves respectively as if Adam and Eve. …This is simply figurative so far as the man and woman are concerned.” The same could be said about other roles – which all represent truths, but the truths are not tied to personal identities. You are Adam. The endowment is about your life. Those true ministers who are sent are explained in D&C 130: 5, which include those who do (i.e. currently living individuals who have gained a message from the Father and Son to be delivered) or have (i.e., those who have left mortality and are returning as angelic, or resurrected, or translated individuals, who have gained a message from the Father and Son to be delivered) belonged to this earth.

    I should add that: Without the minestering of angels, there is not faith, and ¨if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.
    For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made.¨ (Moroni 7: 37-38). That shakes you a little doesn´t it? It does me. It probably should.

    Well, I am struggling to effectively put a relevent order to my letter (clearly a sign of my lack of personal understanding), but I truly wish to highlight the importance of the implementational nature of the temple. In order to illustrate my thought I would like to turn to Mosiah. King Benjamin explains something which ought to give us all a pause. “The Lord God saw that his people were a stiffnecked people, and he appointed unto them a law, even the law of Moses.” (Mosiah 3: 14.) After the failing of Moses´ people to come into the Lord´s presence (which was the purpose of raising up Moses as a prophet and freeing them from Egypt in the first place, but they rather preferred putting a man between them and God (D&C)), the Lord gives them a set of rules. They were unwilling to come unto Him and be redeemed (again Ether 3: 13) and thus He gave them a rigid agenda. Now take note of a few things; God still calls them ¨His¨ and yet ¨stiffnecked¨. Their unbelief and apostatic nature does not equal abandonement of the Lord, however, they are left in agency to attempt to work through the emblematically enriched nature of Mosaic law.

    This set of rules, sacrifices, ordinances and observances included worship within a Temple or House of God. There, in rich symbolism, they were reminded about the real thing: His presence. They were taught about His real nature. They were shown symbols that foreshadowed His coming into the world to be the bread of life, the light of the world, the sacrifice for sin, and the one through whose blood it was possible to enter back into the Holy of Holies. They had symbolic clothing, sacred language, Divine ritual, and sacred space given them. All this because they were “a stiffnecked people” who were unwilling to enter into His actual presence.

    These benighted and proud people then looked at all others and regarded them as less than “the chosen people” because the law of Moses given to them entrusted them with sacred space, sacred ritual, and sacred observances.

    These stiffnecked people made the law of Moses an end in itself. It was their special set of rites, their sacred space, their hidden rituals participated in by only the “worthy” and “chosen few” that reassured them they were God’s chosen people. And they were chosen. But they were chosen to be an example of foolishness, an example of pride, and ultimately an example of those who reject God and kill His Son. They were chosen to show how to miss the mark while standing atop sacred ground dedicated to the God they claimed to worship. They were chosen to be foolish, so that we might be wise. They were chosen precisely because of their stiff necks to show how God does not delight in the mere observances of outward rituals, but expects our hearts to be made righteous. They illustrate how God rebuked the ancient chosen people for their failure to follow Him in the heart, rather than just in their empty ordinances (1 Sam. 15: 22).

    If we believe that mere regular attendance and the fulfillment of ecclesiastical duties is ample as exaltational performance, we haven´t got it still. We are no different than the Lord´s ¨chosen¨ from before. We MUST be baptized unto repentance. We MUST recieve the Holy Ghost and see the celestial amongst tellestial symbolism. Superficial and intelectual understanding will damn a man today as fast as it did the Pharisees and Sadducees. A quote because I like it.. ¨I thank God that I have got this old book; but I thank him more for the gift of the Holy Ghost. I have got the oldest book in the world; but I have got the oldest book in my heart, even the gift of the Holy Ghost. I have all the four Testaments.¨ -Joseph Smith Jr.

    “The things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou must commune with God. How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart! …

    “… Let honesty, and sobriety, and candor, and solemnity, and virtue, and pureness, and meekness, and simplicity crown our heads in every place; and in fine, become as little children, without malice, guile or hypocrisy. And now, brethren, after your tribulations, if you do these things, and exercise fervent prayer and faith in the sight of God always, He shall give unto you knowledge by His Holy Spirit, yea by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost [see D&C 121:26].”

    Let what you have learned by the Spirit in the temple, or, if you haven´t entered, what you have learned by the scriptures guide you in the ways of life and salvation. It would be wise to regularly attend-read, ponder, and search furhter by the spirit, for light and truth is added by degrees, and light cleaveth unto light and adds unto it. ¨That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.¨ (D&C 50:24).

    My deepest desire and prayer is that I, with you, my dearest friends and family, may arrive at that perfect day. I understand that the scope of this letter is large and my understanding limited, however, I invited you all since the beginning to read with the Spirit. The errors within are the errors of man, my errors, but the truths are His truths. However, I beg you to listen to the voice within you, not my voice. Listen to that voice, the Lord´s voice, follow it. I echoe Moroni´s petition, unto myself and you all, ¨come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ.¨ (Moroni 10:32). May God be with you all.

    Your servant and friend,

    Elder ******”
    I have withheld his name. A friend of my sons’

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    • “The interpretation of the endowment is given unto men predicated upon their diligence.”

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  13. The interpretation of the first three degrees of freemasonry are given to men based on their diligence

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  14. Adrianne

    I am intrigued even by the question but yes, I believe absolutely very much in this idea. Interesting in John that Christs ministry began with a marriage. His first miracle was performed at this marriage.
    I believe the true sealing power is found in the perfect union of the glory of a mother and father or husband and wife. One is not without the other in The Lord. I actually believe that a couple can have a type of unified consciousness.
    I feel that you might already have an opinion or knowledge on some of this. God speed

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    • A knowledge? No. An inkling? Maybe. My opinion may be forming. As a mother and female in the gospel there is so little information. Yet, if we didn’t exist…

      It just makes sense to me. The sacrifice and faith it would take to become “one” to have our Heavenly Parents power would be a tremendous feat. That one missing connection to create harmoniously. We become one physically but is it also a symbol of something more?

      Besides, with what we are of capable of in the family why wouldn’t all that be a part of They’re heavenly power in the end? Eh, my thoughts seem better in my head.

      Thanks for entertaining me:). Blessings to you!

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  15. Wow Tim, every time I read one of your posts I am educated, uplifted, and edified. Your explanation of “looking beyond the mark” is one I have missed, and it certainly describes the current mantra in the church that teaches the Church and its leaders are the mark we should be looking toward.

    If I didn’t know better, I’d say you’ve gotten wiser than ever since leaving the corporate Church.

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    • Tim, I agree with Rock. This post truly was “on the mark”. Thank you for “re-orienting” us who have been spun around by “every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive”.

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  16. I trust in what Gordon B. Hinckley said, that things will work out. I believe that God is patient.

    It seems clear that we are not going to convince each other in the short term. Time will tell which of us is in more error. I do not doubt that we both are. That is the nature of mortality.

    I wish you well, my friend. I hope to continue a positive connection with you.

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  17. Did I miss something Tim, what happened the the guest post shared by Log?

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    • It has been reposted. See this post for an explanation: https://latterdaycommentary.com/2014/10/11/apologies-to-tims-readers/

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  18. I was wondering the same thing… also, was it meant to be satire? I thought it was hilarious to have Log do a post on that topic. Please put it back up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not satire. Reposted here: https://latterdaycommentary.com/2014/10/07/what-manner-of-men/

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