Before I analyze the next section of G.azalem’s article, I’m going to share a few more thoughts and scriptures on this idea that the D&C is filled with unconditional promises, as this is a critical doctrinal point for the narrative of G.azalem and the other third watch bloggers, as I call them.
First of all the term unconditional does not once appear in any of the four standard works.
So it is puzzling that G.azalem and the other third watch bloggers use this term regularly and insist that God has declared that every promise in the D&C will be literally fulfilled, regardless of the actions of those individuals to whom specific promises were given.
It’s almost as if the third watch bloggers don’t believe in free agency or that men are accountable before God for their actions, at least not certain men.
Apparently in the eyes of the third watch bloggers God is a respecter of persons and certain individuals will receive a free pass for their sins and transgressions and be allowed to return to earth to fulfil whatever mission they were called to, which they may not have lived worthy of during their lives.
One thing I must say about G.azelem and the other third watch bloggers is that they take the scriptures very seriously. Of course that doesn’t mean that they interpret them correctly.
So let’s see what the scriptures say in regards to unconditional promises and the idea that men who failed a mission in mortality will get a second chance to come back to earth and fulfill it later, at which point they are guaranteed not to fail again.
D&C 20 states,
29 And we know that all men must repent and believe on the name of Jesus Christ, and worship the Father in his name, and endure in faith on his name to the end, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God.
30 And we know that justification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true;
31 And we know also, that sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength.
32 But there is a possibility that man may fall from grace and depart from the living God;
33 Therefore let the church take heed and pray always, lest they fall into temptation;
34 Yea, and even let those who are sanctified take heed also.
One of the arguments that the third watch bloggers, including G.azalem, make is that the first elders of the restored church were sanctified and that even though many of them fell away later, that it was not their fault and that they will return. Somehow being sanctified is considered to provide immunity from being cut off from God and falling from his grace.
Yet D&C 20:29-34 says just the opposite.
These verses state that all men must repent, live righteously, and endure in faith until the end or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of heaven.
Sanctification comes by the grace of Christ “to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength.”
Verses 32-34 further state that, “there is a possibility that man may fall from grace and depart from the living God; Therefore let the church take heed and pray always, lest they fall into temptation; Yea, and even let those who are sanctified take heed also.”
It’s possible then that a man may fall from grace, even from a sanctification, and depart from the living God.
This does not suggest that promises made to an individual, who later falls from grace and departs from the living God, will still be realized by that individual.
One might argue that the first elders in the church who fell away repented in the spirit world and therefore returned into a sanctified state in order to return to earth and fulfill the missions they were called to.
The scriptures do not appear to allow for this possibility either.
“For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors. And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed (Alma 34:32-33).”
This life is the time for men to perform their labors and prepare to meet God. After this life no more labor can be performed if we have not performed our labors in this life.
Continuing with G.azalem’s article,
This post is going to be a long one, so I don’t want to dwell on the scriptural precedents which have led me and others to anticipate Zion’s successful establishment by the same players who laid its foundation over 180 years ago. For more information, refer to an older post of mine: https://themarvelouswork.com/2015/09/07/lds-leadership-pt-3-the-first-elders/
The interesting thing I should mention about that post is that although I had recognized the significance of the term “arm of the Lord” I had not yet directly attributed it to a specific person. Originally I thought it to be Joseph Smith, judging by Section 103:
“Behold, I say unto you, the redemption of Zion must needs come by power; Therefore, I will raise up unto my people a man, who shall lead them like as Moses led the children of Israel. For ye are the children of Israel, and of the seed of Abraham, and ye must needs be led out of bondage by power, and with a stretched-out arm.” (verse 15-17)
It seemed clear that Joseph was the arm…
The question is why it seemed clear that the arm of the Lord prophesied in many places is Joseph Smith.
Do those verses not suggest a future “arm of the Lord” other than Joseph Smith?
The Lord stated to Joseph Smith, “I will raise up unto my people a man, who shall lead them like as Moses led the children of Israel. For ye are the children of Israel, and of the seed of Abraham, and ye must needs be led out of bondage by power, and with a stretched-out arm.”
Joseph was already in the middle of fulfilling his calling from the Lord. He had already brought forth the Book of Mormon, received many revelations, organized the Lord’s church upon the earth, etc. Yet the Lord said that he “will raise up a man” who “shall lead” lead his people Israel out of bondage.
Sounds like a future servant of the Lord to me.
…but another verse seemed to fly in the face of this (Joseph being the arm of the Lord):
“I call upon the weak things of the world, those who are unlearned and despised, to thresh the nations by the power of my Spirit; and their arm shall be my arm.” (D&C 35:13-14)
This verse implies that the arm of the Lord is not a single individual, but manifests itself through a plurality of people.
This is correct, the Lord can have multiple arms and in fact does. It depends on the context of the scripture who is being referred to. Most scriptures have dual fulfillments. First there is a shadow fulfillment, or multiple shadow fulfillments, and then comes the final fulfillment in which the prophecy is literally fulfilled in every detail.
I wrongfully came to the conclusion that the first elders who will redeem Zion each represent the arm of the Lord.
I now understand that the plurality was referring to Sidney Rigdon, to which Section 35 was addressing! The arm of the Lord is both Joseph and Sidney.
It does appear that in D&C 35 that Sidney Rigdon was being referred to as “an arm of the Lord”, as he was called to perform a work for the Lord, but there is no indication from this revelation that Sidney was “the arm of the Lord” spoken of in Isaiah and other places, who would be revealed at a future day.
It is certainly true that both Joseph and Sidney were called to perform a work for the Lord as his arms, but there is no indication that either of them are the final literal fulfillment of the prophecies of the arm of the Lord being revealed, who will ultimately lead the children of Israel out of bondage and home to Zion.
My last post, “The Two Lords and the LORD,” had many inaccuracies because I failed to understand that prophecies pertain to Joseph and Sidney interchangeably. Trying to differentiate them isn’t always possible. They will have different roles and appear at different times—which I will elaborate on!—but labelling one as the Davidic king and one as the Davidic servant isn’t as simple as I thought.
What is clear is that these two are the weak things who jointly bring forth the fulness of the gospel.
The author doesn’t provide any evidence for any of these claims, it is all speculation.
What evidence is there that prophecies about the arm of the Lord pertain to Joseph and Sidney interchangeably? None that I’m aware of.
Certainly Joseph and Sidney had different roles, but what evidence is there to support the claim that “They will have different roles and appear at different times”?
Furthermore what evidence is there for associating either of them as the Davidic King or Davidic Servant? Or in stating that the Davidic Servant and King are separate individuals?
Lyman Wight, to use an example, is not in the same category. Although he is one of the first elders and will return to the earth to preach the gospel—and likely participate in rending the kingdoms of the earth—
What scriptural evidence is there to declare that Lyman Wight will return to earth to preach the gospel? This idea is pure speculation.
…he (Lyman Wight) received the gospel, while it appears to me as though Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon did not actually need to receive the gospel during their probation in the second watch.
Think about it! For some odd reason, Joseph Smith was able to see God the Father in 1820 without being ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood. And for some odd reason, Sidney Rigdon had been sent forth by God to baptize people PRIOR to being united with the restored church.
This is a very strange idea. Both Joseph and Sidney received the gospel, which means good news, during their earthly lives. Both had faith, both repented, both were baptized, both received the gift of the Holy Ghost, and both were ordained to the priesthood.
As for Joseph Smith seeing God the Father as a 14-year-old boy many years before he received the Melchizedek priesthood, this does not suggest that Joseph already held the Melchizedek priesthood and the office of High Priest. Not at all actually.
If Joseph already had the Melchizedek priesthood, why did he and Oliver have to get the Aaronic priesthood in order to baptize each other and ordain each other as priests? And why were they told that the priesthood of Aaron, given to them by John the Baptist, did not have the authority to bestow the Holy Ghost?
Clearly neither of them had the priesthood before the appearance of John the Baptist and clearly right after the visit of John the Baptist they only held the Aaronic priesthood and not the Melchizedek.
Sidney Rigdon clearly did not have the Melchizedek priesthood prior to receiving it by ordination by the laying on of hands by the elders of the church who preached the gospel to him.
Even if we conclude that Sidney Rigdon had the authority to perform authorized baptisms by water prior to joining the church and being ordained based on D&C 35:3-5, it is absolutely clear that he did not have the Melchizedek priesthood at that time. In fact the idea that he had the Aaronic priesthood before he joined the church is extremely questionable as well.
Here is what the Lord said about Sidney:
3 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto my servant Sidney, I have looked upon thee and thy works. I have heard thy prayers, and prepared thee for a greater work.
4 Thou art blessed, for thou shalt do great things. Behold thou wast sent forth, even as John, to prepare the way before me, and before Elijah which should come, and thou knewest it not.
5 Thou didst baptize by water unto repentance, but they received not the Holy Ghost;
6 But now I give unto thee a commandment, that thou shalt baptize by water, and they shall receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, even as the apostles of old.
The Lord told Sidney that he had been sent forth to prepare the way before Him similar to the way John the Baptist had prepared the way, but Sidney didn’t know it.
Now what does that mean? Does that mean that Sidney had the Aaronic priesthood like John the Baptist, but didn’t know it? That is unlikely since the Aaronic priesthood must be received by the laying on of hands and surely Sidney would have known about that.
The logical conclusion is that the Lord was merely referring to the fact that Sidney had been preparing the people in the Kirtland area to receive the fulness of the gospel.
The Lord stated that Sidney “baptized by water unto repentance, but they received not the Holy Ghost”. If Sydney had the Melchizedek priesthood those he baptized would have received the Holy Ghost. In fact it is very likely that they would have received the Holy Ghost to a certain extent if he was performing authorized legitimate baptisms by virtue of the Aaronic priesthood.
This is what happened to Joseph and Oliver following their baptisms. The spirit came upon them and they both prophesied many great things concerning the restoration and coming forth of the Lord’s church again upon the earth.
My conclusion is that Sidney’s baptisms were not valid authorized baptisms, but the Lord was still pleased with his efforts and still used the work Sidney had done to prepare the way for the Lord to build up His church.
After all the converts Sidney had won for the Campbellites, who embraced the restored gospel, were all rebaptized by water by those who had been ordained by the laying on of hands. This would have been unnecessary had the first baptism been a legitimate baptism.
Furthermore, in verse 6 the Lord states to Sidney, “But now I give unto thee a commandment, that thou shalt baptize by water” suggesting very strongly that although Sidney did baptize by water previously, that he had not been commanded to do so.
The Lord continues “and they shall receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, even as the apostles of old.”
If Sidney Rigdon already had the Melchizedek priesthood, why wasn’t he already conferring the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands?
And why was he told to baptize by water and then confer the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, if his earlier baptisms were already properly performed by the authority of the Aaronic priesthood. Wouldn’t he have just given them the Holy Ghost now and not rebaptized them?
Like John the Baptist, Joseph and Sidney are not part of the bride, but friends of the bridegroom/Christ.
What scriptural evidence is there that Joseph and Sidney are not part of the bride, but friends of the bridegroom?
John the Baptist was deemed by Christ as more than a prophet. This is because John the Baptist was Elijah brought back into the flesh. He was not going through a mortal probation to choose good over evil; he had already proven himself to God as Elijah!
While it is true that Christ said that John was “more than a prophet” and that “Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist.” Christ also said that “he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he (John the Baptist).”
While we could speculate as to exactly what Christ meant by these sayings, it is clear that there is absolutely no reason to declare that “John the Baptist was Elijah brought back into the flesh” or that he “was not going through a mortal probation to choose good over evil; he had already proven himself to God as Elijah!”
This is total speculation and goes against the scriptures and teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith.
Sidney Rigdon clearly had priesthood authority if God sent him forth to baptize people before being ordained by either Joseph Smith or Oliver Cowdery. How could he have priesthood authority? He had to have received it during his first probation.
I have already addressed this first claim of Sidney Rigdon possibly holding priesthood authority to baptize. I don’t believe he had priesthood authority prior to be ordained. D&C 35:5 is very weak support for such a claim. There is zero mention of Sidney holding any priesthood authority when he was baptizing as a Campbellite minister.
There is no conclusive evidence that Sidney held the priesthood prior to being ordained and there is no evidence whatsoever that he received priesthood authority in “his first probation.”
There is no such thing as a “first probation” in the scriptures or in the teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith. This is a made up term and false idea.
“David Patten I have taken unto myself; behold, his priesthood no man taketh from him.” (D&C 124:130)
“The keys of the kingdom shall never be taken from you, while thou art in the world, neither in the world to come.” (D&C 90:3)
The two verses above are each evidence that priesthood holders retain their priesthood and/or keys even after performing their labours and completing their time of probation.
On this point G.azalem is completely correct. Priesthood holders who endure to the end faithfully retain their priesthood authority and keys when they die or are translated.
Returning back to Lyman Wight— It was Sidney Rigdon, as a Baptist minister, who originally baptized Lyman and introduced him to the doctrines which would define early Mormonism. Sidney prepared him to receive the fulness of the gospel when it went forth by the hand of Joseph Smith.
This appears to be accurate history so far. Though it should probably be clarified that Sidney would have introduced Lyman to some of the doctrines taught in early Mormonism, but certainly not all.
Lyman was the first to receive the Melchizedek priesthood in early June of 1831…
This statement is not correct. Lyman was not the first to receive the Melchizedek priesthood in early June 1831. He was the first to be ordained to the office of High Priest within the Melchizedek priesthood. There are a few journal entries from those who were present at the special conference at the Isaac Morley farm that might lead one to conclude that the Melchizedek priesthood was first revealed at this conference, but this is impossible when taking all the available evidence as a whole.
There had been the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost following baptism since 1829, before the church was even organized. Joseph and Oliver had already been called as apostles and the first and second elders of the church. For this they would have had to have had the Melchizedek priesthood.
… where thereafter he parted the heavens and was able to behold God the Father and the Savior.
Lyman received the fulness of the gospel and was thus ordained to the priesthood which made it possible to see God as a member of the church of God and the bride of Christ.
D&C 84 explains that without the priesthood no man can see the face of God. Moses saw the face of God as recorded in Moses 1 which is an extension of Exodus 19. It is in Exodus 18 that Moses was given the commission by Jethro to teach the ordinances and laws unto the people (verse 20). Clearly, Jethro, as a high priest, knew the doctrine of Christ—handed down by Melchizedek—and performed the saving ordinances on Moses which enabled him to see God in the following chapter.
Joseph Smith did not have the ordinances of the gospel and yet saw God! The experiences of Joseph and Sidney have contradicted the holy word of God unless this is a result of having under gone a previous mortal probation.
The conclusion reached here is problematic, and ultimately incorrect.
The scriptures do not state that a man must have the Melchizedek priesthood to see God in a vision.
Joseph said that he saw Jesus Christ and God the Father in a vision in 1820. He never said that he was in their presence or that either of them were actually physically present.
Did not Saul, later Paul, see the risen Lord in a vision without having the Melchizedek priesthood as a Pharisee travelling about persecuting the early Christians?
Did not Alma the Younger, an unbeliever, and one who was not numbered with the Church, see Christ in a vision while in a sin-induced coma?
Clearly there is a difference between seeing God in a vision in order to receive a call or to be told to repent, than it is to have the heavens opened and commune with God face to face.
I don’t profess to fully understand how this works, but obviously there is no contradiction and therefore no reason to conclude that Joseph and Sidney received the priesthood in a previous mortal probation, which is again a completely unscriptural term and concept.
If it has been accepted that Joseph and Sidney are the, “weak things of the world,” then it makes sense that Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:27 that the weak things of the world had already been chosen by the time Paul was writing his letters! This is because Joseph and Sidney had been foreordained to return to the earth in the second and third watches. Sidney would bring with him more keys than Joseph—but more on that later.
This conclusion is not correct.
First of all, Joseph and Sidney are among the weak things of this world through whom the Lord works, they are not “the weak things of the world.” The Lord has always, and will always, work through the weak and foolish in the eyes of the world.
This was the case with Enoch, Moses, Isaiah, Paul, Peter, and many, many more.
Paul is not in any way referring directly to Joseph and Sidney in 1 Corinthians. He is talking about the saints in his day and the saints and servants of God in all ages.
Those familiar with the strange history of Mormonism will no doubt be aware that Jesse Gause had originally been called in Section 81 as a counsellor to Joseph Smith in the Presidency of the High Priesthood but the appointment was short-lived due to apostasy. Instead of providing another revelation, the Lord simply replaced Jesse’s name in Section 81 and replaced it with Frederick G. Williams.
I don’t see anything strange about this. Not every person called or ordained in the early days of the church was given a specific revelation which was later published. Many did and many didn’t.
After Jesse Gause fell, Frederick G. Williams was called to replace him. Does the Lord have to provide a new written published revelation for the call of Frederick G. Williams? No. Jesse Gause was out and the Lord replaced him with Frederick. It’s as simple as that.
What was God trying to tell us by choosing someone he knew would apostatize?
Answer: Many are called but few are chosen.
I think it’s a clear sign that the third spot within the Presidency of the High Priesthood was to be filled by someone who was experiencing their first probation.
As are all men called of the Lord, who are born to women on this earth, not just the third member of the first presidency. They are all in their first probation, as there is only one probation for all men.
In hindsight we understand that Frederick G. Williams was not foreordained the way Joseph and Sidney were.
This claim is not based on any evidence whatsoever. Surely Frederick was foreordained for his calling, as all servants of the Lord are.
Anyone who know anything about Frederick G. William’s life, would never deny that he was among the noble and great ones in the preexistence, who was foreordained for a calling here on earth. He lived an honorable and valiant life, matched by few in history.
But make no mistake: Frederick is not to be cast aside as a thing of naught! Section 90 informs us that Frederick G. Williams is accounted as equal with Joseph and Sidney in holding the keys of the last kingdom.
I certainly do not cast Frederick aside as a thing of not. He was a very valiant saint, who no doubt will be saved in the Lord’s kingdom. And yes he did hold the keys of the last kingdom with Sidney and Joseph, but then he was removed from the first presidency due to transgression and therefore those keys were given to Hyrum Smith who replaced him.
Being the good and humble man who Frederick was he repented, confessed his sins, and was returned to full fellowship in the church. He died in full fellowship and as a faithful saint in 1842.
The three of them are told: “Through your administration they may receive the word, and through their administration the word may go forth unto the ends of the earth, unto the Gentiles first, and then, behold, and lo, they shall turn unto the Jews. And then cometh the day when the arm of the Lord shall be revealed in power, convincing the nations, the heathen nations, the house of Joseph, of the gospel of their salvation.” (verse 9-10)
During the restoration movement in the days of these three men, the foundation was laid for the gospel to be spread throughout the ends of the earth, and eventually for the arm of the Lord to be revealed.
These verses are actually referring to the word going from Joseph, Sidney, and Frederick to the school of the prophets, and then from the members of the school of the prophets to the ends of the earth. After this has been done the arm of the Lord will be revealed.
During the first watch, the gospel went from the Jews to the Gentiles.
This is correct.
During the second watch, the gospel went from the Gentiles to the Jews through the administration of those who had received the word by the administration of Joseph, Sidney, and Frederick.
This is correct only if what is meant by Jews is the House of Israel as a whole, primarily the tribe of Ephraim, and not specifically the tribe of Judah. If the tribe of Judah is specifically being referred to, then this is not correct.
At the time of the third watch, the gospel will have the most impact on the Gentiles. Section 90 makes it clear that when the arm of the Lord is revealed in power it will be unto the convincing the house of Joseph of the gospel of their salvation.
There are some problems with these conclusions as well. The gospel has actually been preached to the gentiles ever since the restoration in the 1830s. The missionaries have been sent forth to many of the gentile nations of the earth, searching for the elect, or the lost sheep of Israel. And who have they found? They have primarily found members of the house of Ephraim. They have also found many of the house of Manasseh. Both of these groups are collectively the house of Joseph. This portion of the prophecy of the gospel being spread throughout the earth has been being fulfilled for the past 180 years. It is not a future event.
The descendants of Joseph are part of the Abrahamic covenant, but are Gentiles due to the fact that Joseph likely married a Gentile woman or the prophetic remark of Jacob that the descendants of Joseph’s son Ephraim would become a multitude of nations. (Genesis 48:19)
The descendants of Joseph are indeed part of the Abrahamic covenant, through Isaac and Jacob. They are part of the house of Israel and Ephraim has the birthright among all the tribes of Israel.
Descendants of Joseph are not gentiles. The priesthood line and birthright is through the line of the father and not the mother.
Not that it matters in this case, as Joseph in Egypt did not marry a gentile woman. He married into the royal Egyptian family, who were ruling Egypt at that particular time. During that time Egypt was briefly ruled by a people called the Hyksos, who had driven out the black Egyptian rulers. The Hyksos were from Chaldea, the same place Abraham and Sarah were from. It is also the place were Isaac’s wife Rebekah was from, as well as Jacob’s wives Leah and Rachel. This is why Joseph could marry Asenath. Had she been a black Canaanite, this would have been forbidden, just as Isaac and Jacob had been forbidden to take wives from among the black Canaanites.
Having said that, because the tribe of Ephraim was later lost among the gentiles and intermarried with them, following the conquest of the Northern kingdom by the Assyrians, they are identified with the gentiles until they accept the gospel and take their place with the tribe of Ephraim.
The arm of the Lord will be revealed; and Joseph and Sidney will no longer be hid from the world. If you return back to the scripture I opened this post with, you will notice that the two of them are hidden from the world with Christ.
I addressed this already. Joseph and Sidney are not the arm of the Lord in the way G.azelem interprets them to be. All servants of the Lord in all ages are to a certain degree referred to as the arm of the Lord. All servants of the Lord are hid from the world with Christ, including those servants in the latter and last days.
Not only are the two arms hidden from the world, but so is Jesus Christ. But when holy arm is made bare in the eyes of all the nations, Jesus will be found in the midst of the New Jerusalem. (3rd Nephi 21:25) Section 103 affirms that during the redemption of Zion the servants of God will be graced with the presence of not only angels but of the Lord himself. (verse 20)
The Lord’s arms and ultimately the Lord Himself will be revealed one last time before the millennium. Who exactly will make up these arms has not been revealed yet.
Those who dwell in the New Jerusalem will be graced with the Lord’s presence and the presence of angels. On this last point I completely agree.
If you’ve read this far and haven’t been scared off by my suppositions that Joseph and Sidney were living a second mortal probation I am sincerely impressed. It only gets crazier.
I have not been scared off by G.azelem’s supposition that Joseph and Sidney were living a second probation, but I wholeheartedly concur that this supposition is crazy, as it has absolutely no scriptural support whatsoever. In fact this supposition blatantly contradicts the scriptures and teachings of Joseph Smith.
I am about to suggest some radical ideas which many will find blasphemous.
I agree that some of the ideas put forth in the rest of the article are radical and some of them are even blasphemous. I will address each one throughout the remainder of this series.
All I ask is for the reader to consider what I am saying. It doesn’t matter how big of a heretic you might be; and it doesn’t matter how open-minded you consider yourself— This post will perhaps be the most controversial document you’ve ever read. Simply because… it might just be true?
G.azelem’s post is certainly very controversial, but that does not mean that it “just might be true.” Rather it just might be false. In fact it can be proven by the scriptures and teachings of Joseph Smith that most of it is either false or speculation without any real basis in God’s word in the scriptures.