Monday, May 09, 2011

Sanctification and Consecration

Bishop David H. Burton, the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints gave an excellent talk in LDS General Conference about the Sanctifying effect of helping the needy and poor. In my opinion, this talk is the meat of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You will remember that in the New Testament a rich young man asked Jesus Christ, "What shall I do to obtain Eternal Life." Christ responded, "What saith the Law?" After running down the 10 Commandments, the young man replied, "all these I have kept since I was a boy. What lack I yet?" Then Christ gave one of the most important sayings in all of scripture, "If thou wilt be made perfect, sell all that thou hast, give to the poor, and come and follow me." This covenant and commitment is referred to as "Consecration". For LDS, this covenant is the higher covenant of the New Testament, and it is covenant that is made in the LDS Temple. In return for this devotion, Christ promises us that we can become sanctified and perfected from our sins.

Consecration is not a vow of poverty. That is going beyond the mark. God does not require that anyone "run faster than they have strength." Consecration means that after your righteous wants and needs are satisfied, that you devote all your excess time, talents, and resources to Him, His Church, and to helping the poor and needy. For some, who have little, we are taught in the Book of Mormon "I give not because I have not, but if I had, I would give".

Sanctification is much different than Justification. Justification is what occurs when a person is baptized by water and then born again by fire and the Holy Ghost. Justification is the continual forgiveness of sins by Christ's atonement and the imputing of His righteousness upon the believer. However, while it's nice to be forgiven, Sin still has serious and painful consequences. Let's say I smoke. I can believe in Christ and ask for forgiveness each night, but if I continue to smoke, Christ will not save me from the consequences of COPD and possibly Lung Cancer. We reap what we sow. However, the promise of Sanctification means that if we make the higher covenant of consecration and keep this covenant, we are promised that Christ's atonement not only has the mercy to forgive us, but it has the power to strengthen us against all sin. While, according to Paul, initial justification occurs by faith and not by works, Sanctification is absolutely all about works.

(Justification= initial condescension of the Holy Ghost to dwell with an imperfect individual to inspire them to repent, follow Christ, and be baptized, e.g. God makes the first move. Without this justifying condescension, the Holy Ghost could never dwell in fallen man at all and man could never be turned from His path of sin. However, after this initial "rescue"; good works, ordinances, and covenants are then required to keep that Spirit as a constant companion leading to Sanctification).

Priesthood and Temple
In the Old Testament, the Priesthood of God was not freely available to all. In the days or dispensation of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, only the oldest son received this honor. In the case of Jacob and his 12 sons, the oldest son(Reuben, Simeon) lost out because of serious moral sin. The honor of the priesthood and birthright was then given to Joseph, who was the oldest son of Jacob's 2nd wife Rachel. This honor was symbolized by Joseph receiving the fabled "coat of many colors." The other brothers were so jealous that they sold their brother as a slave into Egypt, tore up the coat into pieces, dipping a small piece of the coat in animal blood. They then delivered the bloody remnant to Jacob telling him some wild animal killed and ate Joseph. However, it turned out that in the end, Joseph in Egypt ended up saving his family from the great famine. In the last days, the tribe of Joseph in America (symbolic of Egypt) will serve to save the rest of the house of Israel from a spiritual famine which was the Great Apostasy during the Dark Ages through the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith in this the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times.

During another Dispensation in the day of Moses, God initially wanted all the Elders of Israel to come with Moses up into the Mountain to make covenants with the Lord, and become a Kingdom of Priests and a Holy Nation. However, we read that the people where afraid and responded to the invitation, to have Moses go alone and speak with the Lord himself and come back and tell them what the Lord said. Ex 20:19 "And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die." However, while they were gone, we know they claimed Moses delays coming down from the mountain so they made the golden calf and engaged in the idol worship of the Egyptians (type of the Last Days).

Consequently, the higher covenant of Abraham was not given at this time, but a lesser and preparatory Law of Moses was given to the people. (Gal 3:17, Heb 7:11) And the priesthood was not given to all the men of Israel, but only to the tribe of Levi and the Sons of Aaron who stood with Moses after coming down from the mountain. During the time of the Law of Moses, only the Levites and the Sons of Aaron were washed, anointed, and clothed in the robes of the priesthood to serve in the temple. And like Joseph's coat, their robes were of made of many colors to represent their sins and need for the future atonement of Jesus Christ. Only once a year, did the High Priest, representing Jesus Christ, dress in all white and pass through the Veil into the Holy of Holies of the Temple's inner sanctum.

However, now that Christ has performed the Atonement and died and has been resurrected and the fullness of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ and the higher Abrahamic Covenant has been restored, the veil of the temple had been torn. The Bible does not say the Veil fell down, but only was torn allowing the righteous in Christ to pass through. John in Revelation was shown the Saints in the Latter-days in the Temple and commented why everyone was wearing white in the Temple. Priests in the temple usually didn't all wear white, only the High Priest wore white. But the angel said in Revelation was told that "these are they who have washed their garments white in the blood of the Lamb". So, the white clothing in the temple represents that disciples of Christ have been washed clean of their sins by His atoning blood.

New Testament Temple
And now in the New Testament Temple, John in Revelation said he saw "another angel fly in the midst of heaven with the everlasting gospel to preach to all kingdoms, nations, tongues, and peoples." Also, John comments that this angel says "hurt not the Earth, nor the trees until we have sealed the servants of God in their forehead". So, now today, the higher covenant and priesthood is not just available to the oldest son, or only one single tribe, but today, this honor is available to every kingdom, nation, tongue and people. In the Old Testament, the temple was only available to one tribe, one family, one language, one nation, one kingdom, one land, one people. Today, these blessing are available to everyone. This is why the angel appears sounding his horn on the top of every LDS Temple. This is the message that the gospel is sounding, that this great covenant, and priesthood, and blessing, and honor is available to all. Accordingly, we see new testament temples being built all over the world to every kingdom, nation, tongue and people.

So, just as in the Old Testament, only the sons of Aaron were washed and anointed and ordained kings and priests unto God, today all worthy disciples of Christ can make these similar preparations and covenants with God just has the Sons of Aaron did in the Old Testament unto God who is the King of kings and Lord of lords. However, the ritual in the temple is a metaphor for life, and is teaching a lesson about who God is, who we are, our relationship with God, and the purpose of life. The endowment of power occurs as we understand and keep the covenant of consecration we make in the New Testament Temple. As we ponder these lessons and "measure the pattern" of the Temple as Ezekiel was instructed to do; and the better we understand and keep these things, the more immune to Satan's temptations we become. We are promised that we will eventually lose all desire for sin. As the covenant of the mountain of the lord's House rolls forth and grows to fill the whole Earth, Satan will be bound.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I believe you are misinterpreting scripture to re-establish the requirement of LDS Temple attendance.
If you read all of Revelation leading up to chapter 7 you will see that the vision of the saints wearing white are actually martyrs in Heaven who have come to faith during the Tribulation, not men living on earth today.
In verse 9 it says, "They were standing before the throne and before the Lamb." We know that the throne is in heaven, the Lord God sits on it, the Lamb is in the midst of the throne, He too is in heaven, so they are in heaven. They then have died. Angels are also mentioned there. Verse 11 says, "And all the angels were standing around the throne..."

Jesus fulfilled the law, the priesthood and the need of the temple by becoming the ultimate sacrifice.
"For by one offering, He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified."[Heb.10:14]

Everything we have in Christ is infinitely sufficient!

Every mention of the temple in Revelations either refers to God's throne room in heaven or the new Jerusalem at the end of this age. Revelation verse 21:22-23 says, "I saw no temple in it," that is the new Jerusalem which is the capital city of the new heavens and the new earth, it says, "I saw no temple in it for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb are its temple."