Monday, April 11, 2011

Chapter 44: The Second Coming of Jesus Christ

Material for this lesson can be found in two chapters of the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church:...(the old Priesthood/Relief Society manuals), in Joseph Smith Chapter 21, in Brigham Young Chapter 45, in John Taylor Chapter 24, in Wilford Woodruff Chapter 24, in Joseph F. Smith Chapters 0 and 44, in David O. McKay Chapter 7 and in Harold B. Lee Chapter 23.

The above can be found by going to the new “lds.org” then click on “Go to Classic LDS.org” (lower left corner), then click on “Gospel Library” then “Lessons” then “Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society.” The manuals are all found at the bottom of this page.

As with the last lesson Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual Chapters 35 and 36 are wonderful resources for this lesson. It is available online at “institute.lds.org” then click on “Course Catalog” on the top bar. There are many references that could be given for the lesson title, but we will confine this blog to the subjects found in the sections of this lesson.

1 - - Looking forward to the Savior’s Second Coming

In the blog for this lesson, section 4, “He will complete the First Resurrection” there is a quote from Harold B. Lee stating that the resurrection (in conjunction with the Atonement) was the “greatest event in the history of the world.” If this is true, the Second Coming could very well be the second greatest “event in the history of the world.”

Concerning this event, President Wilford Woodruff plead and promised:

Trust in God. Do your duty. Remember your prayers. Get faith in the Lord, and take hold and build up Zion. All will be right. The Lord is going to visit his people, and he is going to cut his work short in righteousness, lest no flesh should be saved [see D&C 84:97; Matthew 24:22]. I say to you, watch the signs of the times, and prepare yourselves for that which is to come (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 258).

The first principle of the Gospel, according to the fourth Article of Faith is: “First, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ…” Remembering this is important as we “look forward” to the Second Coming. Here is repeated a promise from President Monson as he talked about the signs of the Second Coming from Chapter 43 in this blog:

The future is as bright as your faith (Ensign, May 2009, 89).

2 - - What Will Jesus Do When He Comes Again?

Some of what Jesus will do that is discussed in this whole lesson was declared by Joseph Smith:

…the fulness of the Gentiles is come in, and woe will be unto them if they do not repent and be baptized in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for the remission of their sins, and come in at the strait gate and be numbered with the house of Israel. For God will not always be mocked, and not pour out his wrath upon those that blaspheme his holy name, for the sword, famines, and destruction will soon overtake them in their wild career, for God will avenge, and pour out his vials of wrath, and save his elect [see Revelation 16:1] (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 256).

2(A) - - He will cleanse the earth

To better understand why Jesus will need to “cleanse the earth” at His Second Coming it is helpful to briefly outline the battle which Christ had with Lucifer in premortality (see Chapter 3 of this blog) which continues throughout six thousand years of the earth’s history and will come to a head at the Second Coming. Following are some scriptures which help understand this battle:

First a formula by which the great and abominable church, founded by Satan, can be identified:

And the angel said unto me: Behold the formation of a church which is most abominable above all other churches, which slayeth the saints of God, yea, and tortureth them and bindeth them down, and yoketh them with a yoke of iron, and bringeth them down into captivity.

And it came to pass that I beheld this great and abominable church; and I saw the devil that he was the founder of it (1 Nephi 13:5 - 6).

Nephi also helps us understand that the dividing line of Christ and Satan:

And it came to pass that he said unto me: Look, and behold that great and abominable church, which is the mother of abominations, whose founder is the devil.

And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth (1 Nephi 14:9 - 10).

Helaman also makes it clear where all wickedness has its origin:

Now behold, those secret oaths and covenants did not come forth unto Gadianton from the records which were delivered unto Helaman; but behold, they were put into the heart of Gadianton by that same being who did entice our first parents to partake of the forbidden fruit—

…and he has brought it forth from the beginning of man even down to this time.

And behold, it is he who is the author of all sin (Helaman 6:26, 29, 30).

From Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual Elder McConkie helps with some definition of this church:

In prophetic imagery, Babylon is the world with all its carnality and wickedness. Babylon is the degenerate social order created by lustful men who love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. Babylon is the almighty governmental power that takes the saints of God into captivity; it is the false churches that build false temples and worship false gods; it is every false philosophy . . . that leads men away from God and salvation. Babylon is false and degenerate religion in all its forms and branches. Babylon is the communistic system that seeks to destroy the freedom of people in all nations and kingdoms; it is the Mafia and crime syndicates that murder and rob and steal; it is the secret combinations that seek for power and unrighteous dominion over the souls of men. Babylon is the promoter of pornography; it is organized crime and prostitution; it is every evil and wicked and ungodly thing in our whole social structure (pp. 97-8).

These aspects of the “church of the devil” are what Jesus will destroy when He “cleanses the earth.”

Indeed, Jesus will entirely destroy this church at the Second Coming:

For I will reveal myself from heaven with power and great glory, with all the hosts thereof, and dwell in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall not stand.

And the great and abominable church, which is the whore of all the earth, shall be cast down by devouring fire (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 29:11, 21)

Joseph Smith helped us understand more about this “devouring fire.” Concerning the parable of wheat and tares (Matthew 13:24-32) Joseph taught:

Now we learn by this parable, not only the setting up of the Kingdom in the days of the Savior, which is represented by the good seed, which produced fruit, but also the corruptions of the Church, which are represented by the tares, which were sown by the enemy…

Now men cannot have any possible grounds to say that this is figurative, or that it does not mean what it says, for He is now explaining what He has previously spoken in parables; and according to this language, the end of the world is the destruction of the wicked; the harvest and the end of the world have an allusion directly to the human family in the last days, instead of the earth, as many have imagined, and that which shall precede the coming of the Son of Man, and the restitution of all things spoken of by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began; and the angels are to have something to do in this great work, for they are the reapers.

“The Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and gather out of His Kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” [Matthew 13:41–42.]

We understand that the work of gathering together of the wheat into barns, or garners, is to take place while the tares are being bound over and preparing for the day of burning; that after the day of burnings, ‘the righteous shall shine forth like the sun, in the Kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear’ [Matthew 13:43]” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 299-301).

Joseph Smith also declared:

The earth will soon be reaped—that is, the wicked must soon be destroyed from off the face of the earth, for the Lord hath spoken it, and who can stay the hand of the Lord, or who is there that can measure arms with the Almighty, for at his commands the heavens and the earth must pass away. The day is fast hastening on when the restoration of all things shall be fulfilled, which all the holy prophets have prophesied of, even unto the gathering in of the house of Israel. Then shall come to pass that the lion shall lie down with the lamb, etc.

But, brethren, be not discouraged when we tell you of perilous times, for they must shortly come, for the sword, famine, and pestilence are approaching. There shall be great destructions upon the face of this land, for ye need not suppose that one jot or tittle of the prophecies of all the holy prophets shall fail, and there are many that remain to be fulfilled yet. The Lord hath said that a short work will he make of it, and the righteous shall be saved if it be as by fire [see Romans 9:28; 1 Nephi 22:17] (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 251-2).

Brigham Young also added:

In the progress of the age in which we live, we discern the fulfilment of prophecy, and the preparation for the second coming of our Lord and Savior to dwell upon the earth. We expect that the refuge of lies will be swept away, and that city, nation, government, or kingdom which serves not God, and gives no heed to the principles of truth and religion, will be utterly wasted away and destroyed (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 333).

2(B) - - He will judge His people

One of my favorite scriptures on this judgment is found in the Book of John:

For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: (John 5:22).

This scripture is also an important evidence of falsity of the doctrine of the Trinity (see Chapter 3 in this blog for further discussion of this deception). This scripture simply makes no sense if there is no separation between the Father and the Son, as taught in the doctrine of the Trinity.

After quoting the scripture referred to in this section, Matthew 25:31-46, President Hinckley stated:

There will be a judgment not only of the nations but also of the people (BYU Speeches, 25 March 1979, p. 4).

From the Encyclopedia of Mormonism we learn that resurrection is also a judgment:

The Plan of Salvation teaches of a partial judgment at the time of death, when the spirit leaves the mortal body and enters the world of spirits (Alma 40:11-14), of another partial judgment at the time of resurrection, when the spirit and the physical body are permanently resurrected and reunited… (p. 774).

The reason that the resurrection is a partial judgment is due to the types of bodies with each of us is resurrected. Again, from Encyclopedia of Mormonism we learn:

The resurrected body will be suited to the conditions and glory to which the person is assigned in the day of judgment... (p. 1223).

Joseph Fielding Smith stated it this way:

In the resurrection there will be different kinds of bodies; they will not all be alike. The body a man receives will determine his place hereafter. There will be celestial bodies, terrestrial bodies, and telestial bodies, and these bodies will differ as distinctly as do bodies here... (Doctrines of Salvation 2:286).

So in addition to the “partial judgment” at death where all will go to either paradise or spirit prison, depending on when one is resurrected, resurrection is also a “partial judgment” because one will either receive a celestial body, a terrestrial body, a telestial body, or a body destined for outer darkness.

2(C) - - He will usher in the Millennium

In this section we read, “The righteous will be caught up to meet Jesus at His coming (see D&C 88:96)” (p. 259). In the next section it also refers to those of the first resurrection in that “They will be caught up to meet the Savior as He comes down from heaven” (p. 259). Among some important scriptures which corroborate this idea include the teaching of Jesus Christ when He came to the Americas after resurrection:

Therefore, if ye do these things blessed are ye, for ye shall be lifted up at the last day (3 Nephi 27:22).

In the Doctrine and Covenants Jesus also declared two times:

Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and I will lift them up at the last day (D&C 52:44).

…therefore, gird up your loins and be faithful, and ye shall overcome all things, and be lifted up at the last day. Even so. Amen (D&C 75:22).

From the Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual comes a quote from Elder Charles Penrose describing part of this event of “lifted up”:

He comes! ...The dead Saints burst forth from their tombs, and “those who are alive and remain” are “caught up” with them to meet him. The ungodly rush to hide themselves from his presence, and call upon the quivering rocks to cover them… He comes! with all the hosts of the righteous glorified.

The breath of his lips strikes death to the wicked. His glory is a consuming fire. The proud and rebellious are as stubble; they are burned and “left neither root nor branch.” He sweeps the earth “as with the besom of destruction.” He deluges the earth with the fiery floods of his wrath, and the filthiness and abominations of the world are consumed. Satan and his dark hosts are taken and bound—the prince of the power of the air has lost his dominion… (p. 101).

The “fiery floods” referred to by Elder Penrose may have to do with the “baptism of fire” that the earth will experience at the Second Coming. President John Taylor explained:

The earth, as a part of the creation of God, has fulfilled and will fulfill the measure of its creation. It has been baptized by water, it will be baptized by fire; it will be purified and become celestial, and be a fit place for celestial bodies to inhabit (Times and Seasons 5:408-9).

Joseph Fielding Smith added:

The Earth actually has a spirit, just like we do. It had to be baptized (the flood) to fulfill all righteousness, just like us. It will also have to receive the baptism of fire (at the second coming of Christ) in order to receive its exaltation and become a celestialized world (Doctrines of Salvation, I:73-4).

All of this may be connected to the “lifted up” referred to in this section, since by some means Jesus Christ will preserve both His celestial and terrestrial children when He destroys His telestial and perdition children by fire. From the story of the flood there may be a pattern which might also apply to the Second Coming. At the time of the flood, there were two means in the scriptures whereby the Lord “lifted up” the righteous.

First, the city of Enoch was “caught up” because of the impending flood (see Moses 7:21 and 37). Contrary to some Mormon myths, these saints were not translated just because they were righteous, but because the world was so wicked and all wicked people were going to be destroyed from the face of the earth (Moses 8:29-30). Remember Enoch and Noah served very long missions teaching faith, repentance and baptism so people could be saved. So serious was the Lord about warning His children that He also sent angels to preach on earth to His children (Moses 7:25).

Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained that even after the city of Enoch was “taken up” there was provision for other converts:

…during the nearly 700 years from the translation of Enoch to the flood of Noah, it would appear that nearly all of the faithful members of the Church were translated, for “the Holy Ghost fell on many, and they were caught up by the powers of heaven into Zion“ (Moses 7:27) (Old Testament Institute Student Manual, 4-14).

Second, the Lord provided an ark for the remaining eight righteous souls to be “lifted up” above the destruction of the world in order to repopulate a new cleansed earth.

Since the “baptism” of the earth would cleanse it from all wickedness, the Lord “lifted up” all who would listen and become His people (Moses 7:47). While we do not know the method, the Lord will, as He has promised, “lift up” all who are not wicked and preserve them from the fires of destruction of the wicked prior to the Second Coming.

Regarding the great quote in this section from Brigham Young, he followed it by emphatically declared:

This will be the work of the Latter-day Saints in the Millennium (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 333-4).

All of the above will be further developed in Chapter 47.

2(D) - - He will complete the First Resurrection

Further significance of the “First Resurrection” and the destiny of those who receive this wonderful blessing is dealt with more extensively in Chapter 46.

President Lee explained the paramount place of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in history:

…the writers of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, record the greatest event in the history of the world, the literal resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind. Dramatically had been demonstrated the greatest of all the divine powers of an incarnated Son of God (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 217).

President McKay elaborated further:

For over four thousand years, man had looked into the grave and had seen only the end of life. Of all the millions who had entered therein, not one person had ever returned as a resurrected, immortal being.
It was, therefore, a new and glorious message that the angel gave to the women who fearfully and lovingly had approached the sepulcher in which Jesus had been buried: “… Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.” (Mark 16:6.)

If a miracle is a supernatural event whose antecedent forces are beyond man’s finite wisdom, then the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most stupendous miracle of all time. In it stand revealed the omnipotence of God and the immortality of man.

The resurrection is a miracle, however, only in the sense that it is beyond man’s comprehension and understanding. To all who accept it as fact, it is but a manifestation of a uniform law of life. Because man does not understand the law, he calls it a miracle.

Indeed, to the Savior of the world there is no such thing as death—only life—eternal life. Truly he could say, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He that believeth in me though he were dead, yet shall he live.” [John 11:25.]

May each recurring Easter emphasize this truth, and fill our souls with the divine assurance that Christ is truly risen, and through him man’s immortality secured (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 66-7).

President Joseph F. Smith expounded on the doctrine of resurrection:

Death came upon us without the exercise of our agency; we had no hand in bringing it originally upon ourselves; it came because of the transgression of our first parents. Therefore, man, who had no hand in bringing death upon himself, shall have no hand in bringing again life unto himself; for as he dies in consequence of the sin of Adam, so shall he live again, whether he will or not, by the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and the power of his resurrection. Every man that dies shall live again.

Jesus Christ … is the first fruits of the resurrection from the dead, as he was raised up, so will he raise up all the children of his Father upon whom the curse of Adam came. For as by one man came temporal death upon all men, so by the righteousness of Christ all shall come to life, through the resurrection from the dead upon all men; whether they be good or whether they be evil, whether they be black or white, bond or free, learned or unlearned, or whether they be young or old, it matters not [see 1 Corinthians 15:21–22; Alma 11:44]. The death that came by the fall of our first parents is eradicated by the resurrection of the Son of God, and you and I cannot help it.

Christ himself burst the barriers of the tomb, conquered death and the grave and came forth “the first fruits of them that slept.” [1 Corinthians 15:20.

…all men…will come forth from the grave whether they will or not. They can’t help themselves. We could not help the curse of mortal death coming upon us, neither shall we be able to avoid or to prevent the resurrection of this body from that grave; for as God raised from the dead, so will all mankind.

We believe there is no other form of resurrection from death to life; that as he [Jesus Christ] rose, and as he preserved his identity, even to the scars of the wounds in his hands and feet and side, that he could prove himself to those that were skeptical of the possibility of rising from the dead, that he was indeed himself, the Lord crucified, buried in the tomb, and raised again from death to life, so it will be with you and with every son and daughter of Adam, born into the world.

We [will] come forth out of the grave, when the trump shall sound, and these our bodies shall rise and our spirits shall enter into them again, and they shall become living souls, no more to be dissolved or separated, but to become inseparable, immortal, eternal.

The elements which compose this temporal body will not perish, will not cease to exist, but in the day of the resurrection these elements will come together again, bone to bone, and flesh to flesh. The body will come forth as it is laid to rest, for there is no growth or development in the grave. As it is laid down, so will it arise, and changes to perfection will come by the law of restitution. But the spirit will continue to expand and develop, and the body, after the resurrection will develop to the full stature of man.

The spirit and the body will be reunited. We shall see each other in the flesh, in the same tabernacles that we have here while in mortality. Our tabernacles will be brought forth as they are laid down, although there will be a restoration effected; every organ, every limb that has been maimed, every deformity caused by accident or in any other way, will be restored and put right. Every limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 89).

President Lee added:

The purpose of life was to bring to pass immortality and eternal life [see Moses 1:39]. Now, immortality means to eventually gain a body that will no longer be subject to the pains of mortality, no longer subject to another mortal death.

The heavy hand of death becomes lighter, the pall of gloom is pierced and throbbing wounds are soothed as faith lifts us beyond the sordid trials and sorrows of mortal life and gives a vision of brighter days and more joyous prospect, as has been revealed, when “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4) through the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. With such faith and understanding you who may be called upon to mourn can sing as it has been written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:54–55.) (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee, 219, 221).

The terrific blessing and scope of the resurrection to each of us is explained by President Woodruff:

When the resurrection comes, we shall come forth clothed with immortal bodies; and the persecutions, suffering, sorrow, pain and death, incident to mortality, will be done away forever.

This doctrine of the resurrection of the dead is most glorious. It is comforting, at least to my spirit, to think, that, in the morning of the resurrection, my spirit will have the privilege of dwelling in the very same body that it occupied here (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 81).

President McKay also shared how precious is this blessing:

In 1912, Elder David O. McKay, then a member of the Twelve, and his wife, Emma Ray, experienced their first great sorrow in parenthood when their two-and-a-half-year-old son, Royle, passed away. Elder McKay’s account of the event shows the heartache he felt but also demonstrates his faith in a future resurrection:

Mon., 8 April 1912. O what a night of suffering for our darling boy! Every breath he drew seemed agony to him! The doctors examined him this morning, and discovered that his pain was due to pleurisy [inflammation of the lung] on both sides. At this we almost lost hope; but later when [the doctor] told us that by an examination he knew what germ had caused the infection and that he had the anti-toxin, we again took courage.
But Royle was too weak and the complications of diseases too many. He battled bravely all day, taking the little stimulant given him at intervals as willingly as a grown person would. At 9:30 p.m., Papa, Thomas E. [McKay] and I again administered to him. Ray felt very hopeful, and lay down on the cot beside him for a little rest. Soon his little pulse weakened, and we knew that our baby would soon leave us. ‘Mama’ was the last word on his precious lips. Just before the end came, he stretched out his little hands, and as I stooped to caress him, he encircled my neck, and gave me the last of many of the most loving caresses ever a father received from a darling child. It seemed he realized that he was going, and wanted to say, ‘Goodbye, Papa,’ but his little voice was already stilled by weakness and pain. I am sure he recognized his Mama a moment later. She had rested only a few minutes; and noticing that the nurses were somewhat agitated, she was bending over her darling baby in a second and did not leave him until we gently led her from the room from which Death had taken our baby boy.

The end came at 1:50 a.m., without even a twitch of a muscle. ‘He is not dead but sleepeth’ was never more applicable to any soul, for he truly went to sleep. He did not die (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 61-2).

2(E) - - He will take His rightful place as King of heaven and earth

The title of this section is well stated as follows:

Articles of Faith 1:10: “We believe … that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 256).

Joseph Smith proclaimed:

It has been the design of Jehovah, from the commencement of the world, and is His purpose now, to regulate the affairs of the world in His own time, to stand as a head of the universe, and take the reins of government in His own hand. When that is done, judgment will be administered in righteousness; anarchy and confusion will be destroyed, and ‘nations will learn war no more.’ [See Isaiah 2:4.].

…when ‘the Lord shall be King over the whole earth,’ and ‘Jerusalem His throne.’ ‘The law shall go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.’ [See Zechariah 14:9; Jeremiah 3:17; Micah 4:2.].
He whose right it is, will possess the kingdom, and reign until He has put all things under His feet’ [see Ezekiel 21:27; 1 Corinthians 15:27] (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 257-8).

Brigham Young also taught:

The time will come when every knee will bow, and every tongue confess to and acknowledge him, and when they who have lived upon the earth and have spurned the idea of a Supreme Being and of revelations from him, will fall with shamefacedness and humble themselves before him, exclaiming, “There is a God! O God, we once rejected thee and disbelieved thy word and set at naught thy counsels, but now we bow down in shame and we do acknowledge that there is a God, and that Jesus is the Christ.” This time will come, most assuredly. We have the faith of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 332).

As did President John Taylor declare:

Who made this earth? The Lord. Who sustains it? The Lord. Who feeds and clothes the millions of the human family that exist upon it, both Saint and sinner? The Lord. Who upholds everything in the universe? The Lord. … Who has given to man understanding? The Lord. Who has given to the gentile philosopher, machinist, etc., every particle of intelligence they have with regard to the electric telegraph, the power and application of steam to the wants of the human family and every kind of invention that has been brought to light during the last century? The Lord. … Who has a right to rule the nations, to control kingdoms and govern all the people of the earth?

The Scriptures … represent Christ as being the rightful heir, and inheritor of this world; they represent him as having come once to atone for the sins of the world; but that he will afterwards come as its ruler, judge, and king (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: John Taylor, 221-2).

3 - - How Will We Know When the Savior’s Coming Is Near?

This subject, as explained in the last paragraph of this section, was well covered in Chapter 43.

It may also be helpful to understand that there are “several appearances” by Jesus Christ in what we call the Second Coming. Four of these are outlined in the Doctrines of the Gospel Institute Manual, under Doctrinal Outline “B” on p. 100. Understanding these will help us know the Second Coming is near.

In case the following quote was not used in the last lesson, a repeat from this blog, it may be useful here. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland stated:

The promised Second Coming of the Savior began with the First Vision of the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1820 (CES Fireside for Young Adults, Sep. 12, 2004).

These firesides are available at “institute.lds.org” online.

The restoration, then, is the beginning of the Second Coming.

Concerning the material presented in this section, I like the way Elder Neal A. Maxwell explained in a conference talk (the whole talk is excellent for this section):

Brothers and sisters, over the sweep of Christian history, some believers have, by focusing on a few prophecies while neglecting others, prematurely expected the Second Coming. Today, while we are obviously closer to that great moment, we are in the same danger.

…I have no hesitancy in saying that there are some signs—but certainly not all—suggesting that “summer is nigh” (Matt. 24:32). We would do well to notice and to ponder, but without either becoming preoccupied or ignoring any sprouting leaves because of being “overcharged” with the “cares of this life” (Luke 21:34).

Members of the Church need not and should not be alarmists. They need not be deflected from quietly and righteously pursuing their daily lives, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7) (Ensign, May 1988, 7, 9).

4 - - How Can We Be Ready When the Savior Comes?

Brigham Young had good insights to answer the question posed in the title of this section:

If the people will not serve the Devil another moment whilst they live, if this congregation is possessed of that spirit and resolution, here in this house is the Millennium. Let the inhabitants of this city be possessed of that spirit, let the people of the territory be possessed of that spirit, and here is the Millennium. Let the whole people … be possessed of that spirit and here is the Millennium, and so will it spread over all the world (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 333).

President Taylor added:

We talk sometimes about Zion, that has got to be built up in Jackson County; also about a New Jerusalem that has to be built and prepared to meet a Jerusalem that shall descend from the heavens. How do our lives and actions compare with these things? Are our hearts, feelings and affections drawn out after them, or are we forgetful and our minds swallowed up with the affairs of time and sense? (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: John Taylor, 61).

President Woodruff also helps us understand the importance of this question:

We are in the last dispensation and fulness of time. It is a great day, and the eyes of all the heavens are over us, and the eyes of God himself and all the patriarchs and prophets. They are watching over you with feelings of deep interest, for your welfare; and our prophets who were slain, and sealed their testimony with their blood, are mingling with the Gods, pleading for their brethren. Therefore, let us be faithful, and leave events in the hands of God, and he will take care of us if we do our duty.

The Lord Jesus Christ is coming to reign on earth. The world may say that he delays his coming until the end of the earth. But they know neither the thoughts nor the ways of the Lord. The Lord will not delay his coming because of their unbelief, and the signs both in heaven and earth indicate that it is near. The fig trees are leafing in sight of all the nations of the earth [see Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:38–40], and if they had the Spirit of God they could see and understand them (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 251-2).

In Chapter 24 (see Joseph Smith—Matthew 1) Jesus explains the Second Coming to His apostles. In Chapter 25 it appears that Jesus explains to them and us how to get ready. One of the most important teachings there is the Parable of the Ten Virgins. Concerning this parable, President Woodruff explained:

Now, those who have got oil in their lamps, are men who live their religion, pay their tithing, pay their debts, keep the commandments of God, and do not blaspheme his name; men and women who walk in the light of the Lord; men and women who will not sell their birthright for a mess of pottage or for a little gold or silver; these are those that will be valiant in the testimony of Jesus Christ.

The man that is righteous cannot save the wicked. We have got to live our own righteousness, that is keep the commandments of God.

The parable of the ten virgins is intended to represent the second coming of the Son of man, the coming of the Bridegroom to meet the bride, the church, the Lamb’s wife, in the last days; and I expect that the Saviour was about right when he said, in reference to the members of the church, that five of them were wise and five were foolish; for when the Lord of heaven comes in power and great glory to reward every man according to the deeds done in the body, if he finds one-half of those professing to be members of his church prepared for salvation, it will be as many as can be expected judging by the course that many are pursuing.

Now the question is, how can we keep oil in our lamps? By keeping the commandments of God, remembering our prayers, do as we are told by the revelations of Jesus Christ, and otherwise assisting in building up Zion. When we are laboring for the kingdom of God, we will have oil in our lamps, our light will shine and we will feel the testimony of the Spirit of God. On the other hand, if we set our hearts upon the things of the world and seek for the honors of men, we shall walk in the dark and not in the light. If we do not value our priesthood, and the work of this priesthood, the building up of the kingdom of God, the rearing of temples, the redeeming of our dead, and the carrying out of the great work unto which we have been ordained by the God of Israel—if we do not feel that these things are more valuable to us than the things of the world, we will have no oil in our lamps, no light, and we shall fail to be present at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Who is going to be prepared for the coming of the Messiah? [Those] who enjoy the Holy Ghost and live under the inspiration of the Almighty, who abide in Jesus Christ and bring forth fruit to the honor and glory of God. No other people will be.

I pray that we may live in such a manner as not to be among the foolish virgins, but understand the signs of the times, do our duty, maintain our integrity, overcome the world, and be prepared to receive our Redeemer when he comes, with joy, and not in grief and shame (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 255-8).

President Spencer W. Kimball also had wonderful insights concerning this parable:

I believe that the Ten Virgins represent the people of the Church of Jesus Christ and not the rank and file of the world. All of the virgins, wise and foolish, had accepted the invitation to the wedding supper; they had knowledge of the program and had been warned of the important day to come. They were not the gentiles or the heathens or the pagans, nor were they necessarily corrupt and reprobate, but they were knowing people who were foolishly unprepared for the vital happenings that were to affect their eternal lives.

They had the saving, exalting gospel, but it had not been made the center of their lives. They knew the way but gave only a small measure of loyalty and devotion. I ask you: What value is a car without an engine, a cup without water, a table without food, a lamp without oil?

Rushing for their lamps to light their way through the blackness, half of them found them empty. They had cheated themselves. They were fools, these five unprepared virgins. Apparently, the bridegroom had tarried for reasons that were sufficient and good. Time had passed, and he had not come. They had heard of his coming for so long, so many times, that the statement seemingly became meaningless to them. Would he ever come? So long had it been since they began expecting him that they were rationalizing that he would never appear. Perhaps it was a myth.

Hundreds of thousands of us today are in this position. Confidence has been dulled and patience worn thin. It is so hard to wait and be prepared always. But we cannot allow ourselves to slumber. The Lord has given us this parable as a special warning.

Even the foolish ones trimmed their lamps, but their oil was used up and they had none to refill the lamps. They hastened to make up for lost time. Now, too late, they were becoming conscious of the tragedy of unpreparedness. They had been taught. They had been warned all their lives.

In the parable, oil can be purchased at the market. In our lives the oil of preparedness is accumulated drop by drop in righteous living. In the parable, oil can be purchased at the market. In our lives the oil of preparedness is accumulated drop by drop in righteous living. Attendance at sacrament meetings adds oil to our lamps, drop by drop over the years. Fasting, family prayer, home teaching [and visiting teaching], control of bodily appetites, preaching the gospel, studying the scriptures--each act of dedication and obedience is a drop added to our store. Deeds of kindness, payment of offerings and tithes, chaste thoughts and actions, marriage in the covenant for eternity--these, too, contribute importantly to the oil with which we can at midnight refuel our exhausted lamps (Faith Precedes the Miracle, 252-6).

In light of the above, Elder James E. Talmage also adds:

The refusal of the wise virgins to give of their oil at such a critical time must not be regarded as uncharitable; the circumstance typifies the fact that in the day of judgment every soul must answer for himself; there is no way by which the righteousness of one can be credited to another's account; the doctrine of supererogation is wholly false. The Bridegroom's condemnatory disclaimer, ‘I know you not,’ was equivalent to a declaration that the imploring but neglectful ones, who had been found unready and unprepared, did not know Him” (Jesus the Christ, 536).

1 comment:

  1. I've been using your lessons to help with my own for over a year now. Thank you for your preparation and for sharing them! I feel very blessed because of your efforts. :)

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