Pinciples of Exaltation
In Doctrine & Covenants 50:29 we read this remarkable statement about prayer, “And if ye are purified and cleansed from all sin, ye shall ask whatsoever you will in the name of Jesus and it shall be done.”
Q: A marvelous promise, but one might ask, "when is a person ever purified and cleansed from all sin?"
A: At the time when he/she has received a remission of sins.
Q: OK, but since, according to Isaiah, the Lord’s thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours, don’t we sin daily? (Isa 55:8-9)
A: Yes, we do.
Q: So, then, besides at baptism, when or how else does a person receive a remission of sins?
A: When he/she effectively offers up and experiences “a broken heart and contrite spirit” for his or her sins (Psalms 34:18; 3 Ne 9:19-22)
Q: So, what exactly is a "broken heart and contrite spirit"?
A: It is a spiritual weeping for our sins during an earnest prayer. It is both an offering on our part as well as a gift from the Spirit of the Lord. It is accompanied by a spiritual cleansing, a lifting of burdens and a remission of sins.
Q: How often should a person offer up a broken heart and contrite spirit?
A: Since we sin daily, that’s how often we need to repent. According to the scriptures we are to do what is necessary to obtain and retain a remission of sins “from day to day” through humble prayer, a broken heart and contrite spirit and service as directed by the Lord's spirit (Mosiah 4:26).
Q: Does this relate to what the Savior means when he says “Be ye therefore perfect?” (Matt 5:48, 3 Ne 12:48)
Q: Can we really be perfect?
A: Yes. When we receive a remission of sins, we are cleansed and perfect at that time. And we can be perfect every day that we receive or retain a remission of sins.
Q: Is that all the Savior means when He instructs us to be perfect?
A: No. We are expected to obtain and retain a remission of sins consistently until we have “no more disposition to do evil” (Mosiah 5:2), which also means until we have “entered into his rest,” such that Satan has no more power over us (3 Ne 27:13, Moro 7:3, Heb 4:1-11). 1)
Q: Is that realistic?
A: Yes. According to Joseph Smith, what God set out to do was to make us like Himself—to build in us the attributes of godhood. If we follow the steps He has given it will happen. To say or think otherwise is to deny the purpose and existence of God (PGP, Moses 1:39). 2)
Q: But surely this is not to be achieved until long after death?
A: Achieving godhood undoubtedly takes time. However, we are to come unto Christ, be sanctified in Him and receive the promise of eternal life in this life—not some distant time somewhere on the other side of the veil. The Lord says, "if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that where I am ye shall be also” (D&C 132:23 italics added).
Q: Really? Do we have clear instruction on this matter?
A: Yes. God has given us a set of specific steps by which we may obtain eternal life, God’s life. And if we follow those steps explicitly, He holds Himself responsible to achieve in us the desired result. And to deny this is to deny the power of God and to thwart God's purpose for this creation (see Moroni 10:32-33).
Q: OK, what are the steps?
A: Start with the first principles and ordinances of the gospel (faith, repentance, baptism and obedience). Then recycle: faith, repentance, baptism of fire, more ordinances, etc. Temple worship, a big dose of humility and willingness to change are also requirements.
Q: Is that it?
A: Not quite. A daily walk through life repenting of our sins, serving others and learning to do the will of the Lord is required. The objects of the pre-mortal, mortal and post-mortal worlds are all the same—to learn how to become ministering servants and, like the wise virgins, taking the Holy Spirit for our guide (D&C 45:57). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of personal revelation. And daily repentance is the qualifier for the personal revelation necessary for full salvation. 3)
Q: Is there anything else important to know?
A: Yes, it is an understanding of the critical importance of the "broken heart and contrite spirit." This is the sacrifice which replaced the Old Testament daily temple oblation or offering. It is in this dispensation the key to personal revelation, sanctification and celestial glory. It is so important that, according to Nephi, "to none else can the ends of the law be answered,” It is the key to knowing the Lord, and for Him to know us (2 Ne 2:7; 3 Ne 9:19-22).
For more information on this subject please see:
1) JS Lectures on Faith, Lecture 7;16. "These teachings of the Savior must clearly show unto us the nature of salvation; and what he proposed unto the human family when he proposed to save them—That he proposed to make them like unto himself; and he was like the Father, the great prototype of all saved beings: And for any portion of the human family to be assimilated into their likeness is to be saved; and to be unlike them is to be destroyed: and on this hinge turns the door of salvation."
2) In Mosiah 13, Alma teaches calling and election to the seemingly unlikely prospects of an apostate people in the city of Ammonihah. He couches this in the phraseology of "entering into the rest of the Lord."(see also Hebrews 4:1-11, the "rest" of the Lord indicates rest from the temptations of Satan; see also D&C 84:21-24). A full reading of this chapter leaves no doubt that Alma is offering to lead a disobedient people into full salvation if they will allow it. Lest there be any question on this matter Alma brings to their attention the example of Melchizedek and his people, who were at one time described as having had "waxed strong in iniquity" (Alma 13:17). The implication is that he was willing to serve in a similar role for the apostate Ammonihahites as Melchizedek did for his people--that is to be an intercessor for them. We know from the JST translation of Genesis that Melchizedek's people did repent and miraculously "obtained heaven" just like the residents of the City of Enoch before them (see JST Gen. 14:25-40). This history would also have been on the brass plates, so that at least some of the people to whom he was speaking would have understood what Alma was offering them. The result of this scenario was and is instructive. What happens next in this account is that about half the people repent and the other half thirst for their blood.
3) "The doctrine of the priesthood is known only by personal revelation. It comes, line upon line and precept upon precept, by the power of the Holy Ghost to those who love and serve God with all their heart, might, mind, and strength." (Italics added, See D&C 98:12) Bruce R McConkie, The Doctrine of the Priesthood, Apr.1982, General Conference, Priesthood session, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Note: Personal repentance is the price of personal revelation.