In section 76, the Lord expressed how much He wants to reveal truth to us (see verses 7–10). Read the scriptures with faith that He can and will reveal to you “the things of God” (verse 12) that you need to know. Then record the insights you receive “while [you are] yet in the Spirit” (verses 28, 80, 113).
D&C 76: A vision given to Joseph Smith the Prophet and Sidney Rigdon, at Hiram, Ohio, February 16, 1832. Prefacing the record of this vision, Joseph Smith’s history states: “Upon my return from Amherst conference, I resumed the translation of the Scriptures. From sundry revelations which had been received, it was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of man had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled. It appeared self-evident from what truths were left, that if God rewarded every one according to the deeds done in the body the term ‘Heaven,’ as intended for the Saints’ eternal home, must include more kingdoms than one. Accordingly, … while translating St. John’s Gospel, myself and Elder Rigdon saw the following vision.” At the time this vision was given, the Prophet was translating John 5:29.
Come Follow Me Insights (Doctrine and Covenants 76, Jul 5-11) – powered by Happy Scribe
I’m Taylor and I’m Tyler.
And I’m Casey, and this is Book of Mormon Central’s Come, Follow Me Insights.
Today, Doctrine and Covenants, Section 76.
And we have a friend, Casey, with us. You’ve seen him in other videos that he’s been producing, The Book of Mormon Central. And we’re excited to learn with him today this marvelous vision that is received to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon.
This might get a little confusing. His last name is Griffiths and my last name is Griffin. So we’ve got Brother Griffiths and brother Griffin here.
We I had a student in the grocery store come up and say how much they love my book, a Mormon class the other day. And I said, I don’t teach The Book of Mormon. So they loved your book and.
Well, thank you. And I get the same for you, for your foundations of the restoration. Just kind of fun. So today we get this incredible section seventy six that’s so incredible that it gets its own label. That is pretty, pretty powerful.
The vision and what we call this the vision. One thing that we want to point out is that this is the first vision really written down by Joseph Smith. The earliest account of the first vision is written down the summer after this in eighteen thirty two. So this is Joseph Smith, not just in his most famous testimony, but in one of the earliest testimonies that he gives of Jesus Christ, his resurrection and the expansiveness of the plan of salvation.
So to put this in context, we haven’t we haven’t put a lot of emphasis on this as we’ve gone through the the curriculum so far this year up to this point. But as you track Joseph Smith’s age, when all of these different events are occurring, keep in mind, Joseph was born December twenty third of eighteen of five. So in section seventy six is given he just almost two months ago from this point turned twenty six. He’s twenty six years old and he’s having the vision together with Sidney Rigdon, which is kind of unique because there are those times in church history where you’ve got the two, whether it’s Joseph and Oliver being visited by John the Baptist and getting the ironic priesthood or Peter James and John, as opposed to the first vision where Joseph, all along here, you get Sidney Rigdon with him, who happens to be twelve years older than Joseph.
So you have a twenty six year old, a thirty eight year old sitting in the upstairs of the John Johnson home. And they have this mind blowing vision as as we’re going to see it unfolds. Stop and think about what you had accomplished, if you’re over twenty six, what you had accomplished by the time you were twenty six years old, and now consider the fact that we’re already in section seventy six. There’s already been a ton of stuff happen over in New York, moving out Kirtland, out to Missouri, coming back to Kirtland.
Josef’s produced The Book of Mormon. He’s produced one hundred and thirty six pages in our current doctrine and covenants up to this point. And he’s twenty six. That to me. Is one of the beautiful testimonies that Jesus Christ is standing at the head of the work through this prophet.
I think another thing that this highlights also is the importance of the translation project. Joseph Smith is engaged in what we call the GST. Joseph Smith called the Ente. He didn’t use the term Joseph Smith. Translation that would have been pretty egotistical of him. We invented this in the 1970s when we were incorporating elements of the translation into our scriptures. Joseph Smith just always referred to it as the new translation of the Scriptures. And Section seventy six demonstrates how important this translation process was to Joseph Smith’s revelatory process.
That it’s it’s difficult to say that the judge has been translation and the DNC are two separate books that are really interwoven because as Joseph Smith is studying the scriptures and that’s a big part of the reason why he’s asked to translate the Bible is to just really intensely engage with the scriptures. The Lord’s giving him revelation along the way. In fact, this whole revelation comes from one single verse, John five twenty nine, which talks about the resurrection of the justice and the resurrection of the unjust.
In response to that, Joseph Smith and Sidney Riggs and start to ponder and say, if the scriptures are right, there must be more resurrection than just one. And that sparks this grand panoptic vision that causes them to see the best of the best, the worst of the worst and everything that’s in between. In fact, when Joseph Smith writes down this vision in the earliest copy, the introduction that he gives to it is that it concerned two things.
The Church of the Firstborn, which is a church within the church, you can be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints and not be a member of the Church of the Firstborn, the church of the firstborn, of the people that are going to make it, the people that are going to be exalted. The second thing he said was that the vision talked about the economy of God and economy is a word that we use differently today than Joseph Smith when he used in his time.
We think about stocks and bonds and finances when we think of economies and Joseph Smith’s day in 1820, a dictionary defines economy as the governance of a household. So Joseph Smith’s one-Line description of what the vision was about was it’s about the church of the firstborn, the people that are going to be saved and how God governs the rest of his household, how he deals with the people that are doing what they’re supposed to be doing, and the people that are sort of doing what they’re supposed to be doing, the people that are totally against him and the people that are absolutely dead set on being rebellious.
How do you come up with the system of salvation that takes into account all those disparate groups? That’s what the vision is about. And that’s one of the things that makes it so fun to study, is that everybody has a stake in the story that’s being told here, whether you’re the most righteous person or whether you’re the most wicked person, you’re going to show up somewhere in the pages of the vision. So you’d better pay attention. This is you we’re talking about here.
So as we jump into this section that that most people when you think section seventy six and if you ask most just average member of the church, what’s in section seventy six, they’ll say, oh, that’s the degrees of glory. And we then instantly in our minds start thinking of the circles in the lines. Right. You, you’ve all seen this. This diagram of the locations, heaven, this is a available birth, earth, we die, spirit, paradise, spirit, prison, were resurrected, were judged and then were assigned to one of three degrees of glory in the kingdoms or to outer darkness.
We’ve seen this and section seventy six kind of highlights these. But Casey, what would you say is the real focus that you get out of reading section seventy six circles and lines?
Well, let me first say that I love this diagram. I love to draw this. And there’s nothing that prompted a better discussion. I mean, this has probably been drawn on every whiteboard, blackboard and blank surface in the church at the same time, too. There’s defects to every type of diagram. Right. I had a friend who was teaching up at the Weber Institute and he had a pair of missionaries from another church visitor’s his class. So he decided to just jettison his lesson and draw this and explain it, thinking this is going to blow their minds.
Well, he drew it and he explained it. And then he said, do you guys have any questions? And one of them raised their hands and said, where’s Jesus? Part of the problem is this emphasizes our journey. It doesn’t emphasize the role the Jesus Christ plays. And in that sense, it is a little bit defective because we don’t want to mention salvation without mentioning the main force in our salvation, which is Jesus Christ and the work that he carries out.
Now, fortunately, the vision doesn’t make the same mistake, the vision as we call it, and said, OK, fundraiser’s. The vision is really a series of visions, at least six, depending on how you classify it. And as you read through the text, you’re going to note that they say a vision open to us. And we saw and then they explain what they saw and then they’ll say the vision closed and another vision open. This happens in sequence several times throughout section.
Seventy six of the doctrine covenants. And interestingly, it’s it’s something that you could draw a couple different ways. For instance, the first vision of the vision is a vision of the father and the son. And that’s an important thing to recognize is that the start of the vision is putting the emphasis right exactly where it needs to be. The first thing that Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon see is Jesus Christ, and they share their witness of who he is and what he does and how expansive the work of the Atonement really is.
Then you go from the best of the best to the worst of the worst. You get to see how good a person can be personified in Jesus Christ and then you get to see how bad a person can be, because the second vision that they witness is the fall of Lucifer from heaven. Interestingly, after we see Lucifer, the vision takes time to explain the fate of the Sons of Perdition, specifically those sons of perdition that kept their first state, then came to earth and then lost their salvation became perdition, which is a Latin word that just means ruined.
The connotation is ruined beyond all repair from the worst of the worst. We go back up to the best of the best. And there’s a vision of celestial glory where Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon see the fate of those that are valiant in the testimony of Jesus and make and keep sacred covenants. The Church of the Firstborn. As is defined here, we moved from the celestial glory down to the terrestrial glory, and then from the terrestrial glory to the glory.
And then at the end of the vision, we kind of mix it up and revisit all of these again, discussing the fate of each. But that’s kind of a rough outline of what Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon saw the way they were presented with a study in contrasts where they got to see Jesus, Christ and his father, then see Lucifer, see the Sons of Perdition, see the sons and daughters of exaltation, and then work their way through the place where every element of the human family would eventually end up.
This is really, really helpful. You’ll notice that the the flow of thought as God unfolds. This panoptic vision for Joseph in Sydney, Sydney. The question, Casey is there sitting in a room and John Johnston’s home upstairs. What’s going on in the room around them?
One of the things that’s really unique about the vision is the fact that it’s not a single person vision or even two people. Thilo Dibbell, who’s kind of our best source when it comes to what happened here, said that when he arrived there were twelve people in the room that Joseph and Sydney were present and that Joseph would describe things that he was seeing saying, I see this and this. And then Sidney Rigdon would say, I see the same. Sidney Rigdon would describe something that Joseph Smith would say.
I see the same fellow. Dibbell said. The other people in the room felt the power and the glory, but did not see the vision. So there’s this whole shared experience were for several hours. They’re sitting there describing what they’re seeing in eternity and then they’re writing down afterwards. In fact, they’re certain places in the text where it says we were commanded to write this. And there’s other places where they say and we were commanded not to write this.
There’s certain. So the vision that Joseph Smith is going to dole out gradually over the next decade and a half of his life, that were probably revealed back here. So what you see in Section 76, again, is going to affect everything that comes after up to and including the ordinances of the temple, which are revealed almost a decade later in our view. So this is really kind of the start of the story. And by the way, there’s that story of that fellow Dibbell tells to where at the end he said Joseph appeared hale and hearty and ready for more while Sydney sat in his chair, very pale and limp as a rag.
Joseph Smith just glanced over at director and said City. That is used to this as I am.
That’s a really good point, that things of the spirit take physical exertion. It’s exhausting and it’s like muscles. The more you use them, the more in shape you get. Well, Joseph’s forces had lots of years to do this, right? And so he’s he’s ready for more, I guess, while Sidney Rigdon needed to take a breather before they moved on.
Yeah. So now as you open up your section 76, you’ll notice it opens with kind of these these themes that you’ve heard before, the introduction in verse one and describing the the Jesus look look at verse one, how it’s a little unique compared to maybe some of the previous sections that we’ve covered here. Are you heavens and give Erro Earth and rejoice inhabitants thereof, for the Lord is God and beside him there is no savior. That’s that’s a beautiful way to introduce the plan of Heavenly Father with the key feature of that plan, the Lord Jesus Christ beside him.
There is no savior. There’s no other name nor means whereby we can hope to be saved only through the name of Jesus Christ. And then it describes some of his attributes and characteristics and perfections, his wisdom, his ways or marvelous. His purposes fail not. He’s from eternity to eternity. He’s merciful, he’s gracious. And by the way, this isn’t just column filler. These aren’t column filling words. These attributes. Do you see here they’re going to be manifest throughout the section.
You’re going to see what God’s mercy and grace and knowledge and power and wisdom, what they look like as far as the governing of heaven’s economy, using the definition of governing his household and all of his children. It’s beautiful. As you see this coming out, he gives you a precursor. Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory. Now, as you turn the page over and we get into the meat of the translation process that Joseph is working on the case he’s been talking about, they get to this section in the Book of John, Chapter five or twenty nine.
And isn’t it interesting how often revelation is rooted in us going to God with a question about something we’ve learned from the prophets, whether it be in ancient scripture or in living prophets? Well, that’s exactly what happened here. This idea of two resurrections, the resurrection of the just and the unjust, which now opens up what we would and I will label these over here on the side to help keep the street. The first vision opens in verse nineteen, and it’s going to take us down through verse twenty four.
So let’s pick it up in nineteen.
Another thing that we want to point out that will help in your Scripture study is that the vision is one of those rare sections, the doctrine covenants that Joseph Smith provided a commentary for. He presents this vision in eighteen thirty two in eighteen forty three. A decade later, Phelps, who’s a close friend of Joseph Smith, publishes a poem called Vérité Meakem Go With Me in Latin, where he writes to Joseph Smith and says this. This is an excerpt from Better Meakem.
Go with me, will you go to the mansion’s above where the bliss and the knowledge, the light and the love and the glory of God, the eternally be death, the wages of sin is not there. Go with me. Joseph Smith, in response to that, writes a poem back to W. Phelps. He was probably helped a little bit by W.W. Phelps and writing it, but that’s a poetic version of the vision. And in that he comments, it’s basically a commentary on what he received in Section seventy six, where he adds an additional insight, some of them which come from the Book of Abraham and other scriptures that he’s received along the way to help you understand it.
Just to illustrate how this works, let’s go to the first vision that he sees here, the vision of the father and the son. So if you have your scriptures, the vision of the father and son starts in verse nineteen. It runs through about verse twenty four. And it gives us a. Whole bunch of interesting information about the father and the son that they’re separate beings, that the savior standing on the right hand of God, that the savior has this important mission, and then it makes this unusual and kind of interesting statement.
He’s describing the mission of Jesus Christ and he says this verse twenty four, that by him and through him and of him, the world’s plural worlds are and were created and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters under God. This is suggesting that not only is Jesus the creator of all the worlds that exist, that’s already been revealed that Joseph Smith, when he was translating the Book of Moses, but the Jesus is also the redeemer of all the worlds that he’s created as well in the poetic version of the vision.
This is even more directly stated. The poetic version of the vision describes these verses this way. It says this I heard a great voice bearing record from heaven. He’s the savior, the only begotten of God by him, of him and through him. The world were all made, even all the career in the heavens so broad, whose inhabitants to, from the first to the last, are saved by the very same savior as ours. And of course, our begotten God’s daughters and sons by the very same truths and the very same powers.
Now the poetic version of the vision adds in two concepts here that not only is Jesus Christ the savior of every world of the sons and daughters of God live on out there, but that they’re also saved by the very same truths and the very same powers. That means regardless of what world you live on and the Lord doesn’t tell us a lot about these other worlds, just that they’re there and that they’re moving through the plan as well, but that a person living in another world isn’t saved by a truth other than faith in Jesus Christ or a power other than the priesthood of God.
They’re saved by the very same truths and the very same powers. It’s kind of neat to think that we’re not just a worldwide religion. We’re a we’re a universal religion. We’re an intergalactic religion that if aliens showed up on Earth today, it wouldn’t really disturb our theology. We just walk up and hand them a copy of the Book of Mormon and they’d be like, have you heard of the Book of Yoda or something like that? And we pick that up and read that, too, that one of the beautiful things the Doctrine Covenants does here is really make the gospel and extrasolar affair something that reaches into every corner of the universe and makes Jesus Christ not just the savior of the world, but the savior of all.
Creation makes the atonement really infinite with a CAPPOTELLI.
So that’s a very, very powerful cosmic perspective of Jesus Christ and of his role and the expansiveness of his infinite atonement. If, if, if our understanding of the atonement was big before verse twenty four right there just makes it astronomically huge. It’s fascinating in scripture when you get deep, deep concepts like this, you kind of want triangulation. So we get a little bit of triangulation because we get it in section seventy six and then we get the the commentary that Joseph Smith gives us through that poem that he wrote.
And we’ll put a link to that poem down in the header of this particular video in case if any of you want to read the entirety of Section seventy six in this poetic form so that it will be easy for you to find. But it’s nice when you can even triangulate it further. Also coming out of Jesus mistranslation effort, The Book of Moses, which is his translation of Genesis, Chapter one through Chapter six, verse 13. In there you get the story of Enoch and part of the story that gets added in in the translation that we get in Moses six and seven is this fantastic vision, a panoptic vision that Đinđić also has.
And in there, there’s this one section where Đinđić looks down and he sees the wickedness of the world and the Lord destroying some of the people on the Earth through the flood of Noah, and he looks over at the Lord during this part of the vision. And God is weeping, not caught off guard. How is it that thou canst weep, sing our holy from all eternity to all eternity? Why are you crying? God gives him a long answer in Moses seven.
But then at the end of his answer, listen to this Chapter seven, verse thirty six, wherefore I can stretch forth my own hands and hold all the creations which I have made and what we learn from this one and from other places as its world without. No, it’s it’s huge out there. I can hold all the creations which I have made and mine. I can pierce them also. Now listen to this qualifier and among all the workmanship of my own hands, there has not been so great wickedness as among thy brethren.
It’s interesting that Jesus seems to have come to this planet to perform his infinite atonement, his his saving act for all of the creations which he has made. They’re all going to be redeemed through his atonement that he performs once for all. But he performs it here. Brothers and sisters. We don’t know the answers to all of these questions or the implications, but you and I are walking on the same planet that the creator of Worlds Without No was born onto and lived and performed.
His infinite atonement here were breathing the same air he did when he performed this infinite atonement for for all of God’s children. Which gives us context to these elements of the gospel that he’s asking us to live in a very, very wicked world. He’s he’s giving us help that we need to combat that world that we live in. Now, let’s shift shift over Casey to the second vision. So picking up in verse twenty five, we’re going to take this second vision of the devil, like you said, we’re going from this contrast of ultimate good to now what is ultimate opposition, ultimate evil look like in the second vision?
The best of the best or the highest a person can become is personified in Jesus Christ. The interesting thing is, right after this revelation that Jesus is the savior of all the world, we immediately go down to where Lucifer is. We see the worst, the most depraved that a son of God can possibly become. And it gives us some interesting background on Lucifer. For instance, verse twenty five describes him as an angel who was in authority in the presence of God, who rebelled against the only begotten son whom the father loved and was in the bosom of the father and was thrust down from the presence of God in the son, and then says he was called Perdition.
Perdition, like we mentioned earlier, is the Latin word that means ruined beyond repair. And in contrast to that, they mentioned he was Lucifer. Lucifer is a Latin term. That means the bright one, meaning he had all this potential. He had all this goodness within him. He could have been a great leader, but he was ruined beyond repair. From there, the vision shifts to explain that the fate of the Sons of Perdition and talk a little bit about what it requires for a person to become a son of perdition.
So this is describing the people who come to Earth and fall far enough that they become sons of perdition. Interestingly, in the church, we sometimes downplay Sons of Perdition because it’s correct to say that it’s not an option for most people. Most people don’t attain the level of knowledge and life necessary to become a son of perdition. But if you look at the overall scope of the vision, the Sons of Perdition received the second most amount of attention after the celestial beings.
So it’s clear that from the emphasis that they’re given in the vision, the Lord wanted us to know about it. It might be also because of the knowledge Joseph and Sydney are receiving right here. They’re moving up to the level where they have enough knowledge to become Sons of perdition. And the Lord wanted them to understand kind of the responsibility that was coming along with this. But if you go down a little bit further to verse thirty four, it’s going to start to list off the requirements for a person become a son of perdition.
And the Lord says, concerning whom? I have said there’s no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come. I sometimes have students say, does this mean the Sons of Perdition can’t repent or that they won’t repent? There’s no difference between those two things, really. If they refuse to repent or if they can’t be forgiven for what they’ve done, the same state is in the end, the savior is just making that declaration. Then he explains what they have to do.
Verse thirty five. Having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, having denied the only begotten Son of the Father, having crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame. Now that is a very, very serious listing of sin that a person engages in. And when we say denying the Holy Ghost, that’s not something as simple as just saying there is no Holy Ghost. Joseph Smith there. The end of his life gave a discourse where he described what a person had to do to become a son of perdition.
That’s what he said. He said, What must a man do to commit the unpardonable sin he must receive? The Holy Ghost have the heavens opened under him, no God and then sin against him after a man who sin against the Holy Ghost. There’s no repentance for him. He has got to say that the sun does not shine while he sees it. He’s got to deny Jesus Christ when the heavens have been open and to him, and deny the plan of salvation with his eyes open to the truth of it.
And from that time he begins to be an enemy. And this is such a huge degree of sin. The point to where you would literally crucify Christ again if the opportunity was given to you that we would say it doesn’t seem like it’s an option for most people. That’s what makes the next line of Joseph Smith discourse so haunting. The next thing he said was this is the case with many apostates of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, that Joseph Smith is a classy guy.
He doesn’t say, hey, I’m talking about you or anything like that. He just says this is the responsibility that sometimes comes with the light knowledge. But exalt a person with with that knowledge comes the responsibility of that. You also could fall. And that’s the fate of these Sons of Perdition. Section seventy six goes on to say, they shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone with the devil and his angels. And they’re the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power and the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord after suffering of his wrath.
Now, section eighty eight, which is going to come along a little bit later, does decreed that Sons of Perdition will be resurrected at the end of the millennium. But when they say the second death, they mean the spiritual death. They mean that they’re going to be cut off from God forever. And the only people that are told. Lehi cut off from God at that point, but cut off because of their choices, because of their decisions, not cut off, because God doesn’t ever want to see them again and he’s shunned them, but because they’ve cut themselves off from God and put themselves in a place where God, I’m not going to say God cannot reach them, but they won’t allow God to reach them is probably the best way to phrase it.
So just a moment. We’re going to talk about this interlude. The gospel is a focus beginning in verse three. Nine is crucial and interesting and valuable that when God defines his gospel, that we pay attention. We’ll see that verse three nine. Before we get to that, let’s look again here at this word, Lucifer. And as Casey was telling us, it’s interesting word that actually comes from two words. The word loose means light. In fact, a great name is Lucy.
It’s actually one who’s full of light. The fire actually comes from the word fairy, like maybe you’ve got on a boat, a ferry boat somewhere that carries you from one location to another. And Lucifer literally means to be a bearer of light. And another name that I think is really beautiful is the word Christopher. Christ fair, somebody who bears Christ, and it’s interesting that Lucifer, his original name, is he somebody who actually bore the light of God?
And he turned away from it just as Casey was explaining, he had all the knowledge that he could ever want and he fully turned away from it. He lost everything. So permission means to be ruined beyond repair. It also means to be lost. And what I love about this vision is that most of us are not going to get to a point where we have so much light knowledge in this life that we’re likely to fall into perdition. I know some of us have worried about that.
What I love about this vision is the power and mercy of God that he’s seen. Most of us actually are going to find ourselves with God. And I love how he instructs us with this clear difference of what it means to be with the father and son, what it means to reach celestial glory and really the opposite of that. So as we listen now, beginning verse thirty nine, let’s now listen about what God defines as the gospel, the good news, the good word of God.
Let’s read here for all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead through the triumph and the glory of the lamb who was slain, who was in the bosom of the father before the world were made. And this is the gospel, the glad tidings which the voice out of the heavens will record unto us. So, again, if you want a nice, beautiful definition and understanding from God himself what the gospel is. This is what to pay attention to verse 41, that he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world and to bear the sins of the world and to sanctify the world and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness.
That threw him all might be saved, whom the father had put into his power and made by him. Who glorifies a father and saves all the works of his hands except those Sons of Perdition who deny the son after the father has revealed him? Wherefore he saves all. We’ve talked about this before, the word all means 100 percent accept them, those sons of perdition, they shall go away into everlasting punishment, which is endless punishment, which is eternal punishment to reign with the devil and his angels in eternity, where there worm dirth not and the fire is not quenched, which is their torment.
So as you look at at the Lord continuing to describe the state of the Sons of Perdition. Look at verse forty six. Neither was revealed, neither is neither will be revealed man to man except to them who are made for takers thereof. Wow, sounds pretty bad. Where you saying, look, it’s never been, nor is it nor will it be revealed to anyone other than those who actually end up in that condition. Look at forty eight. We’re for the end, the width, the height, the depth and the misery thereof.
They understand not neither any man except those who are deemed into this condemnation. It’s pretty, pretty descriptive to say I can’t even give you a glimpse of what a terrible state this is and just hope that you never have to go through it. Kind of the idea here, but then God wants them to record the description it does provide, he says, or they conclude verse 49. And we heard the voice saying, write the vision. OK, so it’s this vision right here.
Write this down. For load, this is the end of the vision of the suffering of the ungodly, and as Casey pointed out, this is the second biggest emphasis given in all six visions. That’s a lot of column space for that group. The Lords, basically. Helping us understand the significance of our agency and our ability to choose whether we’re here, here, here, here, is really dependent on us tapping into what God is offered so freely to all of us through the gift of his son in that gospel.
The good news, these people don’t want to hear the good news.
And from an instructional standpoint, I love how God points things out. Good instructors often will teach with opposites put right next to each other because it provides enormous clarity. Or if you just had a great skill, it’s hard to know the different gradations of the shades of gray. But when you put black and white together like opposites right next to each other, there is absolutely no question about where the boundary is. And it’s fascinating that when God reveals us, he doesn’t go.
All right, father and son, for those of us who for those of you who want to join us, let’s talk about Mr Kingdom. And he’s like, this is where I want you to be. And here’s the exact opposite. And it’s interesting. He spends that much time. So it’s just a great instructional moment that God provides for us right here in the scriptures.
And then watch what happens now. We go 50 through 70. We go from the state of being lost or totally ruined to the state of ultimate salvation. So fascinating that God is classifying all three of these categories as saved, being saved. These are degrees of glory. It’s a state of salvation to one degree or another. This is not saved now, like we said in eighty eight, they’re going to be saved from the grave, but that’s about it.
Yeah. And each one of these we should classify as a heaven. It’s not like in in our religion. The celestial kingdom is the same thing as hell. The celestial kingdom is better than the world that we live in right now. If Earth is a celestial kingdom, imagine earth with no war, famine, hunger, poverty, disease or death. That’s the celestial kingdom. That’s the place where a really objectively bad person gets to. That does tend to show how merciful the plan is.
And Lord the Savior does spend a fair amount of time down here. Among the Sons of Perdition, the most time is spent among those that achieve celestial glory. Now, one important thing to understand is this is eighteen thirty to what is written down in the vision. Here is the beginning of our understanding of the celestial glory. There’s going to be a lot of other things revealed later on. For instance, Section one thirty one reveals that in the celestial kingdom there are three separate degrees and that in order to obtain the highest, a person has to enter into an order the priesthood that Joseph Smith classifies as the new and everlasting covenant of marriage.
So what we see in verses 50 through 70 or the vision of the celestial kingdom is really the beginning of our understanding. Other things like the the revelations that come through the ordinances of the temple and things that are taught by Joseph Smith in Section one twenty nine six one thirty one thirty one and one thirty two are going to be given when the time is appropriate. What it says right here and now in eighteen thirty two is the basics that a person has to know.
For instance, verse fifty one, these are they, the celestial people who received the testimony of Jesus and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial being buried in water in his name. And this according to the commandment that has been given the ordinance that the church offered for salvation in eighteen thirty two was baptism. And so the savior’s instructions are going to center around that. But it also starts to expand to us exactly what Heavenly Father is going for and what he has in mind for his faithful sons and daughters that make it to celestial glory.
If you jump down to verse fifty four, these are the church of the firstborn. These are they into whose hands the father has given all things. This is not only a revelation about the celestial kingdom. This is a revelation about Heavenly Father, that Heavenly Father is in the sort of person that feels like he has to jealously guard all the power that he has. He’s more than open to giving it away to anybody that qualifies to handle those things.
He wants to give it to every single one of his children, but he can’t hand the keys to the universe over to someone that hasn’t proven that they can demonstrate responsibility, it mentions is fifth verse fifty six. These are they who are priests and kings who receive the fullness of his glory. In fact, I love the way the poetic version of the vision describes this. These verses read like this. They’re the priests of the Order of Melchizedek, like Jesus from whom is this highest reward receiving a fullness of glory and light as written their gods, even Sons of the Lord.
So all things are their way of life or of death, whether things down or to come. All are theirs and they are the saviors. And he is the Lord’s having overcome all as eternities heirs. I love the phrase eternities heirs that the idea is that there’s not a finite amount of love and power and glory that exists in the universe. Heavenly Father can give us everything that he has and still have the entire universe left over. And that’s literally what the Savior intends for people that achieve celestial glory, that you not only become like Jesus Christ, that when you get there, you’re given a semblance of the same responsibility.
Now we’ll always have a close relationship and God will always be our father. But the point of this passage is that Heavenly Father isn’t intending to dominate our lives and rule over us and direct every single aspect of what we do. He wants us to become independent. He wants us to become autonomous. He wants us to become like him and learn that our work and our glory eventually will be to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of Mormon and women, to bring more people into the circle of exaltation.
And the cycle just continues on as more and more people achieve the powers that Heavenly Father has already attained and the glory that he has right now. So heirs of eternity is one way to describe those that go to the celestial kingdom. Let’s clear this is the beginning of Joseph Smith’s journey into the celestial kingdom. This isn’t the end. There’s a lot to be revealed along the way. And even what we have right now on Earth might just be a semblance of what has to be taught later on for us to become what Heavenly Father is and for us to do what Heavenly Father.
So this this brings up the question, what does it really mean when we say saved? What do we mean when we say a person is going to be saved either in this life or in the eternities? And what is our description of salvation? Section 76, this vision is opening up that lens of salvation much bigger than it than it existed in in the 18 30s to the point where, Casey, how would you describe the reception of these notions that are coming out of this section?
How did people respond? Because this is this is showing that God is way more merciful than we’ve been taught from most pulpits up to this point.
Yeah, there’s an interesting range of reactions to the vision. For instance, Joseph Smith loves the vision and he says even the most narrow minded of men is constrained to exclaim, this came from God. On the other hand, there’s other people in the church that genuinely struggle with the vision. Brigham Young, for instance, doesn’t say that he struggled, but he remembers when the vision was first revealed. A lot of people were upset. The way Brigham Young phrased it was they were upset because God wasn’t going to send everlasting fire infants and heathen people that never knew the gospel or children that died before they were able to receive the ordinances.
Brigham Young brother Joseph was even more blunt. He said, When I first read the visions of the eternal world, I couldn’t believe it. My Lord was going to save everybody. It’s interesting that the problem they have with the vision wasn’t that it was too narrow, was that it was too broad. They thought that it was a type of universalism, which was this doctrine at the time that everybody was going to be saved. But there are hints throughout the doctrine covenants that this is the case.
For instance, as early as Section 19, the Lord says eternal punishment isn’t eternal. It’s called eternal because that’s my name. I’m eternal. Endless punishment is an endless it’s called endless because my name is endless and the savior is only interested in punishment as much as it rehabilitates people. There’s a great place prepared for every single person. And it’s interesting that over the course of several decades, the Saints evolve from this perspective of why is the Lord going to save everybody to why the Lord’s going to save everybody?
This is a really, really great thing that if you’re a Latter day Saints, you don’t have to look at a non Christian or any person really, and say that God doesn’t love them because Section 76 is this manifestation that God has a place prepared for the least of us or maybe a better way to phrase it would be for the worst of us. He’s going to put everybody exactly where they’ll be happy eventually or as happy as they’ll allow themselves to be, which is isn’t that interesting?
Because we put that in the context of people on this side of the veil. But in my mind, Section 76 opens up this expansive doctrine of salvation for people on the other side of the veil as well. You hinted at that, this idea that God is going to open doors to allow people, their agency on that side of the veil as well. It’s their choice. They can’t get to the judgment bar and say, I didn’t get baptized because I didn’t get the chance.
Yeah. And again and again, the vision repeats this idea that, boy, you’re given chance after chance to accept the gospel. For instance, next vision that we’d move into versus 71 to 80 is the vision of the term Restoril kingdom. And there’s some terminology in here that’s that’s difficult to sometimes grapple with unless you understand this is eighteen, thirty two. This is before the first temple has been built. This is before ordinances and salvation for the dead have been revealed as these verses could make it sound like a lot of people aren’t going to necessarily get into the celestial kingdom.
But when we understand the full context, for instance, it describes terrestrial people, verse seventy four as those who receive not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received their honorable men of the Earth who were blinded by the craftiness of men. Now it sounds like if you didn’t accept the gospel down here on earth, you’re not going to go to the celestial kingdom. We know that that’s not the case, that a person can accept the gospel after this life.
But in eighteen thirty two, he’s working with the light and knowledge and understanding that they have at that point they receive of his glory, but not of his fullness. They receive the presence of God, but not the form, the presence of the sun, but not the fullness of the father. Their bodies terrestrial, my body celestial, different glory as the moon differs from the sun. The interesting thing is that the terrestrial kingdom is a lot like what conventional Christians, Orthodox Christians would describe heaven to be like, right?
That’s right. You’re in the presence of Jesus. You live in in this paradise condition where you don’t have any any struggles. You’ve there’s no family connection here. No, no marriage. That’s pretty descriptive of the way many people today would describe a state of salvation.
Now, one of the things that’s revealed later on about the celestial kingdom is this crucial vision that comes to Joseph Smith in eighteen thirty six. This is when the Kolan Temples being dedicated and he sees another vision of the celestial kingdom and he sees not only a heavenly father and Jesus Christ, he sees Adam and Eve. He sees his father and mother who hadn’t died yet, and he also sees his brother, Alvin. So it’s clear that this is a vision of the future, not a vision of the present kingdom.
When he asked the question of how did Alvin get here? His older brother, who had died before the church was organized, the savior gives him this answer. All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to. Terry shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God. And we should never read those passages on the terrestrial kingdom without reading section one hundred and thirty seven alongside of it. The idea of being when he says they received not the testimony of Jesus, that means they wouldn’t have received it even if it had been given to them.
If a person would have received it and didn’t have the chance in this life, they’ll have the chance to the next life to see that there’s plenty of people out there like Alvin Smith, who just didn’t have the chance to make the covenants necessary to go to the celestial kingdom. And as time goes on, the Lord gradually reveals how a person like Alvin Smith, who lived according to the light of knowledge that he had, was still qualified to go to the celestial kingdom and not cast off forever just because of some bad timing that might have existed while he was here in mortality.
So we have to use all scriptures to kind of balance each other. And before you take Section 76 to extreme, you also have to say what’s going on in eighteen thirty two and how is the Lord just planting the seeds here later on that are going to explain that? Well, not only is the celestial kingdom expansive as it sounds here, but as expansive as it sounds in Section 137 and that and add in Section one thirty eight which talks about we don’t even know if there’s a line between paradise and prison in the spirit world.
And if there is a line, it’s pretty porous. A person can go back and forth fairly easily based on the choices that they make. Brigham Young like to say about the plan of salvation that has a place for everything and puts everything in its place. We have to do the same thing with the scriptures and make sure that when we read a passage like this, we put it in context and then read what the Savior revealed to Joseph Smith later on so that it all fits together.
Wonderful. Now, let’s shift gears, Cassie, into the celestial from 81 to 90 where it first introduces it. And then we’re going to come back to it again in eight a little bit later.
Yes. So one of the most instructive passages here, which is describing the celestial kingdom, which starts in verse 81, that’s where the vision of the celestial kingdom opens is. It says here the glory of the celestial, which is the glory of the lesser, even the glory of the stars, the differ from the glory of the moon in the firmament. One of the interesting things is that the word celestial exists in the dictionary. So does the word terrestrial.
But it generally refers to the earth. If you look up the word in the dictionary, it says Mormon degree of heaven like this is a word that didn’t exist, at least in the proper language, until eighteen, thirty two. And this is given. Now where does the word celestial come from then. You might notice tella if you put it up there, goes in front of a couple other things. For instance, we all feel comfortable saying a telephone or a television are the Latin meaning of tella is distant.
If you said telephone, the word telephone literally means far away. Voice television means a distant vision or distant viewing. The celestial kingdom means those that are furthest or farthest away from God. Now, one interesting thing that the Savior says, or to go to verse eighty two, is that a celestial person is a person who receives not the Gospel of Christ or the testimony of Jesus. The Savior discusses those like there are two different things that to receive the testimony of Jesus or to acknowledge who Jesus is and its glory, majesty and power is different than receiving the gospel.
And this is a key distinguishment between the terrestrial and the kingdom. A terrestrial, a terrestrial person accepts the testimony of Jesus, but not the full gospel. A person rejects them both. Now, it does say later on in in section seventy six and in Philippians that eventually every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ. But there’s also a difference between confessing that Jesus is the Christ or the King and having a testimony of Jesus.
There’s a difference between acknowledging this guy has the power and he can do whatever he wants to do and saying This is my savior and my king to Lessel. Person never really acknowledges Jesus Christ as their savior. They just acknowledge Jesus Christ as a powerful figure. Now, given that extent of rebellion and the things that it to the person doing later on in the vision and some of the closing verses, it is wonderful to. That a celestial person still receives some semblance of glory back when I was a seminary teacher.
We did one of those exercises where we dressed up a room in the seminary as the celestial kingdom and the terrestrial kingdom and the kingdom. And I was in charge of the celestial kingdom. Right. That’s that’s what I wanted to do. So I blacked out all the windows and I got a smoke machine and I played disturbing music while they were walking in. And then I talked about how awful the celestial kingdom was. And I will fully confess on camera here.
I thought false doctrine. That day I depicted the celestial kingdom like it was going to be a really unpleasant place. It’s not the reward that Heavenly Father has, even for his most rebellious children, for all. But the Sons of Perdition is actually a pretty great reward. And it’s wonderful to think of how generous God is that a person that is this rebellious, that refuses to accept the gospel or even a simple testimony of Jesus still has a great reward appointed for them, will receive a resurrected body and have the blessings that come along with having that type of body.
Now, to make room to to diagram a couple of other things here, Mary the board. He now shifts into some comparative kinds of things she’ll notice in verse 91, thus we saw the glory of the terrestrial, which excels in all things, the glory of the celestial, even in glory, in power, in might and in dominion. And then he does a comparison with the celestial kingdom in verse ninety two, ninety three and four in ninety five down to six.
And then he brings you back to the terrestrial in ninety seven, the glory of the Tressel’s one, even as the glory of the moon is won. And then he gives this interesting contrast, starting in 98 with the terrestrial kingdom where he’s going to give us a lot more descriptions all the way down through 116 of this terrestrial kingdom. The glory of the terrestrial is one, even as the glory of the stars is one four as one star differs from another star and glory.
Even so, differs one from another in glory in the terrestrial world. And he talks about this contrast in the New Testament that occurred in the Book of Acts where some would say, well, I’m of Paul and others say, well, I’m of Apollo and I’m of Cifas. That would be Peter. And he’s saying, these are they who say they are some of one and some of another, some of Christ, some of John Dye, some of Mormons Moses, some of the lies, some of Jesus and some of Isaiah and some of Đinđić.
But they received not the gospel needed the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets, neither the everlasting covenant cases already touched on this. The idea that it’s it’s not enough to just know that Jesus is powerful, that he can do all these amazing things. It’s to actually change how we act and how we live our life. Notice this for a moment. If we draw these three circles once again with the tea Lesterville here, terrestrial here and see celestial here, we love the sun, moon and stars analogy.
What is really that kind of distinguishes the kind of person that ends up in the terrestrial kingdom? There are a lot of ways you could do this. So this is just one lens through which you can look at this, this comparison here. The types of sins that are listed in the terrestrial kingdom all seem to have a common thread. They seem to be sins of commission, things that we’re doing wrong, where we’re doing things we shouldn’t do. We’re breaking as it will the thou shalt not thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not commit adultery. These are all things described here in as terrestrial behaviors. And yet the grand irony is, is even even if you do all of those things. God is still willing to give you something as glorious and amazing as the celestial kingdom, which far exceeds the beauties and the wonders of this earth, because you remove all of those bad things out of this earth and put people in that kind of a condition where the Holy Ghost can be present with them forever.
That’s powerful. Keep in mind, terrestrial people in the kingdom aren’t lying. Telstra people in the Telstra kingdom aren’t stealing. They’re not committing adultery, they’re not doing the bad things that are described here, which is very interesting because now it brings us back to this earth and the significance of other scriptures like cases talking about where you look across all of the scriptures in their context. You’re looking almost 30 for where he says this is the life, this is the time to prepare to meet God.
This is the day where we perform our labors. Let’s go. Let’s choose to bend the knee and confess that Jesus is the Christ when it’s still fully a choice that we have to make rather than a reaction when he’s coming in the second coming and the ground is shaking and every means bowing because there’s no other choice. It’s it’s powerful to realize that if I can deal with these now, rather than wait for them to be dealt with later as a reaction, then the reward is going to come.
Now, as you shift up one degree of glory, the sins here are largely sins of omission where we’re not fully faithful. We’re not we’re not valiant in that testimony of Jesus. These are, in essence, the thou shalt commandments. And we’re not fully committed to the Lord, whereas the celestial kingdom is about people who are fully consecrated to the Lord, elder Neil Maxwell once said in October nineteen ninety five, once the celestial sins are left behind and henceforth avoided, the focus falls evermore on the sins of omission.
These omissions signify a lack of qualifying fully for the celestial kingdom. Only greater consecration can correct these omissions, which have consequences just as real as do the sins of omission. Many of us thus have sufficient faith to avoid the major sins of commission, but not enough faith to sacrifice our distracting obsessions or to focus on our omissions so that for me, one of the major take home lessons from Section 76 is vision. This set of visions is this idea that there is a place where the boots meet the ground on the covenant path where I need to move forward.
And it’s not just about trying to get somewhere. The Plan of Salvation Section 76 isn’t just about the location. It’s not just about getting to a kingdom or getting to heaven. Salvation isn’t just to get somewhere. Salvation is to also become like God, to become like Christ. And that to me is the major message here of section seventy six is he’s given us his gospel, his glorious news. The good the best news, I would say is that there’s hope that yeah, we have struggles, both of commission and omission.
But he’ll forgive us if we use our agency now today, not not 20 years down the road, but now to more fully consecrate our life to him because it’s only then that we become like him.
Can I point out one other thing, too? We go back to verse ninety eight where the savior starts to list of people that go to the celestial kingdom before he gets down to the really serious in verses one or three of the liars, the sorcerers, the adulterers and the warmongers, the first group that he lists off. And this is kind of a nice return to our Christ centered focus on the vision. As he says, some of the people that go to the celestial kingdom are of Paul or Apollos or Seaforth or John or Moses or Elias Isiah’s Isaiah or even Đinđić.
Now, that is not to say that Paul, Apollos, Cifas, Moses, Elias is that there’s Isaiah or Enoch or bad people. They’re very, very good. What he’s saying is, is that if you center your belief and your faith on something other than Jesus Christ, you are not going to be saved. That a person that affixes themselves to a mortal individual who’s not Jesus Christ won’t achieve exaltation. In fact, they could be bound for celestial glory.
The poetic version of the vision is even more direct in the way it says this. Listen to this. It says these are they who came out for Apollos and Paul for Cifas and Jesus, all kinds of hope. In other words, he’s seeming to suggest that there’s even a way that you could affix yourself to Jesus, but maybe only the parts of Jesus’s gospel that you like, that you think are good and not the whole personage, everything that Jesus presents and everything that he asks a person to do.
And you won’t gain salvation. The vision wants us to focus on Christ, the living Christ, the full Christ and every aspect of his teachings, and not just pick and choose the teachings or disciples that we want. It’s probably fair to say that if you fixate on any teacher or any gospel figure other than Jesus Christ, you’re not going to go to the celestial kingdom. And so the vision starts out with this laser focus on Christ and that the end has a very poignant warning about those that might put their faith in something other than Christ or even their own conception of Jesus Christ and how no salvation can be gained from that.
There’s one little concept here in this final section of the celestial kingdom that I find beautiful. Look at verse one of. When he this is speaking of Jesus the savior, when he shall deliver up the kingdom and presented unto the father Spotless, saying, I have overcome and trodden the winepress alone, even the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God. Brothers and sisters, this is this is deep doctrine here, this concept that in the beginning, when God creates the world through his son, through the power of his only begotten.
Once Adam and Eve fall. From God’s presence, God, the father’s presence Jesus takes on this role of the mediator, the intercessor, the advocate with the father before that, it seems that the father is doing most of the interacting with Adam and Eve and with us up in heaven. That is the first relationship we have is with is with God, the father, not with Jesus Christ. Then we fall and Jesus becomes that go between and Heavenly Father delegates, all of these things into the hands of his son, even the very kingdom of God on the earth.
It’s it’s given to Jesus to do his work, has his work of salvation. It’s the gospel of Jesus Christ. You’ll notice we don’t call it the gospel of Heavenly Father. But ironically, we know where Jesus got his gospel. We know where he got his teachings. It was Heavenly Father who gave them to him. But we call it the gospel of Jesus Christ because it’s a delegated gospel to him to do his work. It’s the church not of Heavenly Father.
It’s the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. It’s The Book of Mormon another testament of Jesus Christ. You’ll notice that the focus is always bringing us to Jesus Christ. It’s fascinating to me that of all the things, these big things that got delegated into the hands of the savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, there are a couple of things that Heavenly Father didn’t delegate. I love the fact that he says they will still talk to me primarily directly through prayer.
He didn’t delegate prayer to Jesus. He retained that connection with his children. And I love the fact, brothers and sisters, that Jesus promises here in section seventy six, first one of seven, that the day will come when he’s done his work. He’s the king of kings, will have done his work. He will have prepared the kingdom. And he doesn’t retain it for himself. What is he going to do? He’s going to present it spotless to the father.
He’s going to give it to the father near the end of the vision, they wrap everything up by talking about the savior delivering up the kingdom. This is one of seven and presented to the father Spotless, saying, I’ve overcome and I’ve tried the winepress alone, even the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God. Now, one question that always comes up once we’ve put these degrees of glory up here is where does it end? Is there a progression between kingdoms?
And it could be really, really easy to set one church leader against another church leader. And that’s not always wise. The honest truth is, I don’t know if there is a consensus among church leaders as to what happens here. And that might be because it’s not that important for us right now to know the answer to that question. What’s important for us to know is that God loves us and that he cares about us and that he’s got a place prepared for each of us.
We’re just like Tyler will be comfortable and happy. In fact, I really like this statement from Lorenzo Stone and I just want to read it right now. He said, The plan and scheme that he Jesus Christ is now carrying out is for universal salvation, not for the salvation of the Latter Day Saints, but for the salvation of every man and woman on the face of the Earth. For those in the spirit world and for those who may hereafter come upon the face of the earth, it’s the for the salvation of every son and daughter of Adam.
They’re the offspring of the Almighty. He loves them and his plans are for the salvation of the home. And he will bring all of us into that position in which they will be as happy and as comfortable as they are willing to be. So rather than putting the burden on God, answer that question, let’s keep the focus on ourselves and where we would be comfortable and happy, how much we’re willing to accept from God, and how much we’re willing to allow him to give to us is the real question.
We know that he’s merciful and we know that he’s kind, but we also know that he’s just in that he’s fair, that he believes in law and operates within laws and has given us those laws and commandments and a plan of salvation so that we have a map and understanding of where we’re going to too much worry about what happens in the eternal world sometimes draws us away from what we need to be doing right now to stay fixed on Christ the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the message of Salvation.
The Section seventy six presents.
So to me, it’s fascinating that when you come and Christ. He isn’t the end goal. That’s not the end, you haven’t arrived. My job is to to have faith in him and trust him. Come on to him. His job is to cleanse me, forgive me, purify me, shape me, sanctify me, purge me of all of these things and struggles that I have so that one day, dressed in the robes of his righteousness, he can then present me as part of his overall kingdom, spotless to the father as we then come full circle back to the God who originally gave us life.
One of my favorite quotes on this subject comes from President Benson when he said nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our father and how familiar his face is to us. It’s it’s Jesus reestablishing and reconnecting us, which is what at one moment is all about, is to take Fullan women and men and to help them come to be at one with our heavenly parents yet again before we left their presence.
So as we conclude this glorious vision, Section 76, our hope and our prayer is that each one of us have a clear view, a better vision of who God is, who we are, who the people around us are, who the devil is, and what our capacity is to move forward, trusting in Jesus Christ to help us to become who we were intended to become, who we were born to become. And to finish, we just want to repeat something we’ve said before.
The God of the universe who holds worlds without no in his hand, holds you in his heart because you’re his precious daughter or his precious son, know that you’re loved. And we leave that with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.