Come Follow Me with Casey Paul Griffiths (Doctrine and Covenants 99-101, August 23-29) – powered by Happy Scribe
One of the great things about the doctrine and covenants is how Christ centered it is. In revelation after revelation, the savior explains about himself, about his mortal life here on Earth and about the things he’s doing to help us right now. But sometimes it can be a little overwhelming to study about Jesus Christ in revelations like Section eight. We learned that through the light of Christ, Jesus is present and in all things, that Jesus has all power that Jesus can do and be anything that he needs to be in order to assist us on the Road to Salvation.
Section ninety three is a little bit different in that it doesn’t talk about how majestic the savior is as much as it talks about how much the savior is like us and more importantly, how we can be like him. In a series of theological lectures prepared by the early leaders of the church called the Lectures on Faith, they talk about the requirements to have faith in Jesus Christ. For instance, one of the lectures reads, Let us here observe that three things are necessary in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God and a life and salvation.
First, the idea that he actually exists. Second, a correct idea of his character, perfections and attributes. And third, an actual knowledge that the course of life you’re pursuing is according to his will. So in order to have faith and to life and salvation, you have to, one, know that God exists. Number two, you have to have a correct idea of his character, perfections and attributes. And number three, you have to do what God tells you to do.
If you don’t do what God tells you to do, you don’t have any promise. Basically. Now, each one of these things is necessary. But let’s focus on requirement two, that we have to have a correct idea of God’s character, perfections and attributes. Part of the reason why Section ninety three is so important is because it’s here that the savior really tries to tell us about who he is and what he does. Specifically in section ninety three, The Savior over in verse 19 says I give in to you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship and know what you worship, that you may come to the father, my name, and in due time receive of his fullness.
Now, one of the interesting things about this is that section ninety three and very much reads like the opening to the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John talks about how the savior was the word and the word became flesh and that the savior was the light and life of the world, all these majestic, wonderful things about how powerful he is. But John also provides us with a close look and what the savior was like. John says specifically in verse 11, I John Bear record and I beheld this glory as the glory of the only begotten of the father, full of grace and truth, even the spirit of truth, which came and dwelt in the flesh and wealth among us.
So John was there. John’s an eyewitness. And because the texture so closely parallels the gospel of John, a lot of people have just assumed that this is John the wrote the gospel. That’s possible. Another hypothesis that’s interesting is that the John that wrote these words was John the Baptist. You’ll note if you look at verse 15, it says, I, John Bear record that the heavens were opened and the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove and set upon him.
And there came a voice out of heaven saying, This is my beloved son. These are all things that John the Baptist would have witnessed when he baptized Jesus Christ. So it’s possible that what we’re reading is the original record of John the Baptist that was then incorporated into the gospel of John by the writer of that work. Now, when the savior says he wants us to worship him or know how to worship, we need to think a little bit about what worship actually means.
Elder Bruce McConkey said. Perfect worship is emulation. We honor those whom we imitate. The most perfect way of worship is to be holy as Jehovah’s Holy. It’s to be pure as Christ is pure, and it’s to do the things that enable us to become like the father. The course is one of obedience. Now, how do we know what the father is like? Well, now, the McConkey also said the four gospels contain the most comprehensive revelation of God, the father of any scriptures, because they show forth what kind of being the son is and men knowing the son, thereby by the father.
So if you know what Jesus Christ is like, then you know what Heavenly Father was like. And if you act like Jesus Christ, hopefully that’ll change your heart and you’ll become like him when the savior says to worship. Think about a worship service that we attend when we go to a worship service on Sunday. Typically, the central event is the sacrament, where we ask a group of young men to literally imitate Jesus Christ for a few minutes. They break bread and they bless water, just like the Savior did, and then they pass the bread on the water out to their loved ones, just like the savior did.
It’s almost like acting like the savior for just a few minutes sometimes gets inside of us and helps us be like the savior throughout the rest of the week. Now, here, the savior, once he introduces himself, makes a direct parallel. One of the things that’s taught in the record of John is that the savior received grace for grace. In other words, the kind of perfection that we ascribe to Jesus Christ is moral perfection. Jesus kept the commandments perfectly.
He wasn’t perfect in every single way. He still got tired and hungry and discouraged. These aren’t sins and they’re things that the savior had to experience to know us and what we’re like. John is clear that the savior received grace for Grace until he received the fullness. And that’s part of the reason why he’s called the son of God. Now, once the savior has allowed John to teach us that he received grace for Grace. It’s interesting that he starts to flip these attributes that he has back on to us.
For instance, in verse 20, the savior says I sang to you, you shall receive Grace for Grace. In other words, what I’ve done is what you have to do. I haven’t asked you to do anything that I’m not willing to do myself. Then the savior starts to talk about his background and verse twenty one. He says, I was in the beginning with the father and him, the firstborn, and then says, you were also in the beginning with the father.
That was the spirit, even the spirit of truth. Now, does that make sense? We’re as old as Jesus and Jesus is as old as the father. How does that work if Heavenly Fathers are father and if Heavenly Father created us? Well, a few verses later, in verse twenty nine, the Savior explains Man was also on the beginning with God. Intelligence or the light of truth was not created or made. Neither indeed can be so.
It is true that God created you. He created your spirit, and he allowed the conditions to exist where your body could be created, where you could come and progress on the path of God. But section ninety three is saying there’s something deeper than that, that there’s an intelligence that the core of every man and woman that has always existed and can’t be created or made, that is eternal. Now, we don’t know a lot about intelligence and we need to be careful not to speculate.
But Section ninety three does teach us two things about intelligence. No. One, but it’s eternal that it’s always existed and can’t be created or made, and then down versus thirty and thirty one. It teaches us another thing about intelligence. It says all truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it to act for itself as all intelligence also. Otherwise, there is no existence. Behold, here is the agency of man. In other words, intelligence has always existed and intelligence also had some form of agency taking those two things about ourselves.
There’s a whole world of possibilities expanded about us philosophically. In fact, some of you might be familiar with Truman G Mansome. He’s best known for talking about Joseph Smith, but he was really a philosophy professor and he loved Section ninety three because of how intense it was, he noted. The Section ninety three was received when Joseph Smith was twenty seven years old. Then Truman Madsen said it defines beginning beginnings. The interrelationships of truth, of light, of intelligence, of agency, of element, of embodiment, of joy.
Truman Madsen said every sentence and every word is freighted with meaning. In one fell swoop, it cuts many Gordian knot. If you’re not familiar, the Gordian knot was a knot in ancient Greece that they thought could not be untied by anybody. Alexander the Great walked up to the knot and just slice through it. With this sword, therefore unraveling the knot. Truman Madsen was saying that what Section three does philosophically is just cut through these philosophical arguments that have troubled people thousands and thousands of years.
So let’s deal with some of these questions. For instance, how can something come from nothing? Section ninety three would say the universe was not created from nothing. The elements are eternal. Everything around us has an element of eternity to it, and it’s always existed. God came along and organized the universe, but he didn’t create it from nothing because the elements are eternal. A second question people might ask is how can Christ have been both absolutely human and absolutely divine at the same time, section ninety three teachers.
He was not both. At the same time, Christ received not of the fullness at first, but continued until you received the fullness. He came to Earth as an ordinary person and then came back all the light and knowledge that he had until he became Jesus Christ Jehova of the Old Testament. Again, another question that can be asked is if man is totally the creation of God, how can he be or do anything that he was not divinely precast to do?
In other words, are you just a robot that God programed to do certain things, or do you have the power to make your own choice? Section ninety three says man is not totally the creation of God. Intelligence was not created or made. Neither indeed can be. And behold, here is the agency of man. In other words, there’s a part of you that’s always existed and always had some power to make your own decisions. Now, Heavenly Father gave you agency by giving you a spirit and then arranging for you to receive a physical body which increased your agency greatly.
But that power to make your own decisions was always there and you’re responsible for your own acts. You can’t blame everything that you do on God and say that’s just the way God may be because you have the power to make your own decisions. Heavenly Father is always given that to us. Another question is sometimes brought up is how can man be a. Divine creation and yet be totally depraved, section ninety three says man is not totally depraved. Every spirit of men was innocent from the beginning and God, having redeemed, ran from the fall man became again and their infant stayed innocent before God.
And that might explain why the savior revealed these truths. You see, we don’t know a lot about the context of Section ninety three. It doesn’t look like it was received in conjunction with Joseph Smith translation of the Bible because he wasn’t translating this part of the Bible at the time, but it was received at a time when it appears that one of Joseph’s friends, Frederick T. Williams, was having trouble with this family and the Lord Chasen’s all the recipients of this revelation by saying you have not touched your children light and truth according to the commandments, and that the wicked one hath power as yet over you.
And this is the cause of your affliction. In other words, one of the reasons why we have to understand God is not just so we can understand ourselves, but so that we can understand to those people that we love, those people that we’ve been given stewardship over. Being a parent is in some ways acting in the same way as God. God watches over us and protects us. He gives us gifts that allow us to have greater agency. And he wants the very best for us, but he allows us to make our own decisions likewise with our own children.
We love and watch over them. We give them gifts that give them greater agency, and we want them to make the best decision. And when they don’t, it causes sorrow for us. Understanding how precious and wonderful the people that we love are in our lives, especially those children that have been brought to us, helps us understand why God feels strongly about us, why Heavenly Father was willing to give up his only begotten son and my Jesus Christ was willing to give up his life.
It’s because every single person that you see every day is a son or daughter of God and eternal being that’s always existed and will always exist. And that Heavenly Father desperately wants to help reach their full potential. If we do that, if we really know how and what we worship, we can reach their full potential and even achieve the same glory the Jesus Christ has.