"The spirits of the just are enveloped in flaming fire,...are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and emotions.. and are often pained therewith." (Joseph Smith, Teachings, p. 326.)
"office & work of Elijah .. . is one of the greatest & most important subjects that God has revealed." -TJS Ch 26-
The quote above talks about some characteristics of these saints that exist in the celestial realm. They are "enveloped in flaming fire" that understand what we are each going through. It's like the Book of Mormon described with Lehi when visited with an Angel; there "came a pillar of fire and dwelt upon a rock before him" (1 Nephi 1:6) where he saw and heard much. When Nephi and Lehi were preaching among the Lamanites they were "cast into prison many days without food" (Helamen 5:21) When the Lamanites returned to slay them, Nephi and Lehi had the following experience:
And it came to pass that Nephi and Lehi were encircled about as if by fire, even insomuch that they durst not lay their hands upon them for fear lest they should be burned. Nevertheless, Nephi and Lehi were not burned; and they were as standing in the midst of fire and were not burned. And when they saw that they were encircled about with a pillar of fire, and that it burned them not, their hearts did take courage. (Helamen 5:23-24)
Another description was given by Joseph of the afterlife. Joseph taught that the Seraphim are "fiery ones" or the "burning ones." All these words are descriptions of the afterlife. These seraphim are the closest to the throne of God as "shining seraphs around thy throne" (D&C 109:79) It was the seraphim (again a description of a class of angels) that purged the lips of Isaiah "Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar; " (2 Nephi 16:6) It was their responsibility of cleansing him. "Thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged" (vs 7) to stand in the presence of God.
The Spirits of the Just:
The spirits of the just are talking about a specific type of people. When talking about the attributes of those who attain to celestial glory it states in Doctrine and Covenants section 76 that they are those,
...who overcome by faith, and ARE sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, (HSOP) which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true. (vs 56)An inheritance is obtained by the HSOP. "In Him also we have obtained an inheritance... the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession" (Ephesians 1:10-14). The HSOP is a sealing power, that binds whats on earth with whats in heaven. It is given as the promise of eternal life. D&C 76 states that they "are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise" meaning they have received it in this life. Its describing the characteristics of those who obtain to that glory.
The early saints at one time received this promise as recorded in D&C 88.
3 Wherefore, I now send upon you another Comforter, even upon you my friends, that it may abide in your hearts, even the Holy Spirit of promise; which other Comforter is the same that I promised unto my disciples, as is recorded in the testimony of John.4 This Comforter is the promise which I give unto you of eternal life, even the glory of the celestial kingdom;5 Which glory is that of the church of the Firstborn, even of God, the holiest of all, through Jesus Christ his Son— (vs 3-5)Testimony of Jesus:
The testimony of Jesus is not the HG but rather to be sealed by the HSOP.
"To be sealed with the Holy Spirit of Promise that is the Testimony of Jesus.” (WJS, pg 209)This is another characteristic of the Celestial. We can see those who are terrestial in D&C 76 that they are those "Who received not the testimony of Jesus [which is to be sealed by the HSOP] in the flesh, but afterwards received it.". They did not receive the HSOP but afterwards received it [beyond the grave].
Joseph said regarding the sealing of Elijah,
To obtain this sealing [of Elijah] is to make our calling and election sure which we ought to give all diligence to accomplish (WJS, Franklin D. Richards Diary)The power of Elijah is connected with one receiving their calling and election (being sealed by the HSOP). It is this promise (C&E) given by God that we are able to obtain a promise for our posterity.
Make your calling and election sure go on from grace to grace untill you obtain a promise from God for yourselves that you shall have eternal life. this is eternal life to know God and his son Jesus Christ, it is to be sealed up unto eternal life and obtain a promise for our posterity. Whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, this is the power of Elijah to seal or bind or turn the hearts of the fathers to their children sealed against all sin but the sin of sheding innocent blood and the Sin against the holy ghost. (WJS, James Burgess Notebook)Receiving Sealing Power - Individuals:
D&C 68:3-4 relates the power of the Holy Ghost to seal:
“And this is the ensample unto them, that they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost. And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.” [Verse 12 adds,] “And of as many as the Father shall bear record, to you shall be given power to seal them up unto eternal life. Amen.”There is power to seal when moved by the Holy Ghost. That authority anyone can receive on a case-by-case basis. When Christ was brought to the temple at Jerusalem, the prophetess Anna had the power of the Holy Ghost within her. It was the Holy Spirit of Promise that made the declaration through her. In these moments, the one moved simply declares, by the voice of prophecy, what God has done. Women have used this power when moved upon by the Holy Ghost. The first meeting of the school of the prophets in Kirtland, Ohio included both men and women. In the meeting the gift of tongues “was poured out in a miraculous manner” on not only the church’s elders but also “several of the members of the Church both male & female.” Sealing is by the word of God, and in a real sense it is obtained by an ordinance. It is the power of prophecy, and that gift can be experienced by all. The prophetic word contains the power to seal when it originates from God.
While all can experience at times this power through the Holy Ghost it is different than the Spirit of Elijah or the future coming of Elijah.
Role of the Spirit of Elias:
The HSOP is about individuals being sealed to God but the Power of Elijah isn't just about individuals but familial. From the years of 1840-1844 Joseph consistently (at least 6 times) taught about the future need for Elijah to come again and restore the power of Elijah. He never once stated he had already come. In-fact Joseph states the following regarding the role of Elias and Elijah.
"What I want to impress upon your minds is, the difference of power in the different parts of the Priesthood, so that when any man comes among you saying I have the spirit of Elias you can know whether he be true or fals, for any man that comes having the spirit & power of Elias he will not transend his bounds.Those who hold the keys of the "Spirit of Elias" hath a "preparatory work" "His [John's or Spirit of Elijas] mission was to preach repentance & baptize with water, but it was he that should Come after him that should baptise with fire & the Holy Ghost" (ibid). Not once did John the Baptist transcend his bounds but left the "greater work" to others.
John [The Baptist] did not transend his bound but faithfully performed that part belonging to his office, and evry portion of the great building should be prepared right & assigned to its proper place, & it is necessary to know who holds the keys of power & who dont, or we may be likely to be decieved. (WJS, Wilford Woodruff Diary, 10 March 1844)
Role of The Spirit of Elijah:
Joseph explains about the role of Elijah, "him that should bapitse with fire & the Holy Ghost", was found among the Apostles who were "endowed with greater power than John". The people that were baptized by water under John or Elias - still needed to be baptized with fire - or receive the gift of the Holy Ghost under one with power to do so or from God directly - under the Spirit of Elijah.
"When paul came to Certain Deciples He asked if they had received the Holy Ghost they said no, who baptized you then we were Baptizd unto Johns Baptism No John did not baptized you for he did his work right, & so Paul went & baptized them for He knew what the true doctrine was & he knew that John Had not Baptised them" (ibid)The apostles knew John's work was baptism by water, not of that of the Holy Ghost. Therefore they batpized the people "with fire & the Holy Ghost". 3 Nephi also distinguishes between these two powers. When bestowing the power to baptize by water the Lord called Nephi forth and said to Nephi "I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people" The Lord also called others forth and "gave unto them power to baptize" (3 Nephi 11:21-23). All it took was the Lords "words" to give them power. Never did the Lord touch them.
Than the Lord distinguishes between this group and another group, the disciples, AFTER instituting the sacrament and the crowd partaking thereof. He called the disciples before Him.
"He touched with his hand the disciples whom he had chosen, one by one, even until he had touched them all, and spake unto them as he touched them. And the multitude heard not the words which he spake, therefore they did not bear record; but the disciples bare record that he gave them power to give the Holy Ghost.. (3 Nephi 18: 36-37)The disciples were the only ones with power to give the Holy Ghost. And it required the Lord to "touch them" to receive that power "one by one". Whereas the power to baptize was merely given by the Lord speaking to the people.This power was given after they and the people had received the sacrament. The disciples were the ONLY ones to receive power to do this and was never delegated to others. Though the Lord always retains the right to "visit others with fire and the holy ghost" (paraphrased, 3 Nephi 11:35).
Coming of Elijah:
Joseph spoke repeatedly about the coming of Elijah and his role. There are three parts of this. There is a "spirit of Elias", Spirit of Elijah", and "Spirit of Messiah" and there is Elijah himself who went up into heaven.
The spirit of Elias is first, Elijah second, and Messiah last. Elias is a forerunner to prepare the way, and the spirit and power of Elijah is to come after, holding the keys of power, building the Temple to the capstone, placing the seals of the Melchizedek Priesthood upon the house of Israel, and making all things ready; then Messiah comes to His Temple, which is last of all…. Elijah was to come and prepare the way and build up the kingdom before the coming of the great day of the Lord, although the spirit of Elias might begin it (ibid, or TPJS, pp. 335, 340).In an alternate recording in a diary by Thomas Bullock (There were multiple recorders each varying slightly from each other as seen here or as recorded in the Words of Joseph Smith. Wilford Woodruff was the most complete recording) said,
The Spirit of Elias is a forerunner same as John the Baptist-the Spirit of Elijah is the sealing power- to seal the hearts of the Fathers to the children-and the children to the Parents 58 as Paul declared that the Saints of the last days could not be perfect without them-neither can they be perfect without us 59-the Spirit of Messiah is all power in Heaven and in Earth 60- Enthroned in the Heavens as King of Kings and Lord of Lords 61-the Rainbow is not to be seen-it is a sign of the commencement of famine & pestilence (WJS, Thomas Bullock Diary, 10 March 1844)The angel that appeared to Joseph said the following concerning Elijah,
"Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming" (D&C 2:1-3; JSH 38-39)This event, where Elijah comes down out of heaven the same way he went up, must still happen before the Lord comes. It will happen when Zion looks downward and a people have received the truth look upward, and follow it. (See JST Genesis 9:22-23) Elijah is vital as the last one to make the ascent from earth to heaven. He rose up through the fiery corridor, and went to God‘s presence. He joined the ―fathers in heaven who are to return. He was the last who opened the way by his physical ascent and will return as the "hosts of heaven" and "they that come shall burn them[us]" (JSH 1:37) if we cannot abide their presence, or obtained to this greater priesthood that allows one to stand in the presence of God and live. (See D&C 84:20-23) This is why we are required to prepare ourselves, individually, before His return or being gathered to Zion.
This work of Elijah involves a temple. It invovles more than just the individual receivng the power themselves, its familial, which at anytime can receive this power by being sealed by the HSOP or receiving their Calling and Election. As seen in Helamen 10.
Connecting Ourselves with the Fathers In Glory:
Joseph said concerning Elijah,
this is the spirit of Elijah that we redeam our dead & connect ourselves with our fathers which are in heaven & seal up our dead to come forth in the first resurrection & here we want the power of Elijah to seal those who dwell on earth to those which dwell in heaven this is the power of Elijah & the keys of the Kingdom of Jehovah. (WJS)In order to fulfill the spirit of Elijah in our lives we must "redeem our dead" but we cannot do that unless we ourselves are redeemed. Therefore we must receive our "calling and election" or the promise of eternal life that we ourselves can also take part to redeem our dead who are in the world of spirits. That is the mission of Elijah. If you will receive it, this is the spirit of Elijah: That we redeem our dead, but then connect ourselves with our "fathers which are in heaven". "Our dead" are saved through us, but we are saved by connecting to our "fathers in heaven."
Who are "the fathers who dwell in glory?" Well, go back to the revelation in which Joseph Smith received the sealing power, D&C 132:49. There you learn the sealing power was conferred upon Joseph by God‘s voice: "I the Lord thy God will be with thee even unto the end of the world and through all eternity for verily I seal upon your exaltation. Prepare your throne for you in the kingdom of my Father, with Abraham your father." This is Joseph‘s calling and election. Then, in verse 46 Joseph is given the power to seal: "I say unto you whatsoever you seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven. Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth in my name by my word, saith the Lord, it shall be eternally bound in the heavens. Whosoever‘s sins are remitted on earth shall be eternally remitted eternally in heaven" and so on. This reference to Christ‘s "Father, and [Joseph‘s] father Abraham" is important. The connection was made between Joseph and Abraham, one of the "fathers who dwell in glory" because as soon as Joseph received the sealing authority and was promised exaltation, the Lord immediately describes the effect of the Lord sealing Joseph to eternal life and exaltation. It connected Joseph with "the fathers who dwell in glory." It made Joseph a living member of the family of the exalted.
When we receive "This Gospel", as did Abraham, Jacob or Issac, we will become "Abraham's seed" fulfilling the covenants given to Abraham or those promises made to the fathers. It will reconnect us with this priesthood line that is broken anytime apostasy or wickedness enters the world and people apostatize from the truth. Because priesthood is defined as a connection with heaven, or "inseparably connected with the powers of heaven", if men lose that connection we lose the power to raise up others to connect with heaven. No man can stand in the presence of God and live without this greater priesthood. (See D&C 84:20-23)
When discussing the Sons of God, Joseph said, "I believe in these Gods that God [i.e., the Father] reveals as Gods—to be Sons of God & all can cry Abba Father–Sons of God who exalt themselves to be Gods even from before the foundation of the world & are all the only Gods I have a reverence for..." (Joseph Smith, Bullock report of Sermon in the Grove, 16 June 1844)
“He shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers." (JSH 1:39)The promises of the father's shall be fulfilled in part through the children by planting those promises in the hearts of the children. What does it mean to plant something in the heart of a person? The only way for the children to fulfill the promises made to the fathers is to do what Abraham did and receive "This Gospel" (Abraham 2:9-11). To reconnect, as the right of the firstborn, back to the priestly line of the fathers. So to "plant" in the hearts of the children would be best served by planting the "desire" that Abraham also sought after. Alma 32 distinguishes how faith can grow like a seed, or desire, and when that seed grows it becomes a tree or faith bearing fruit. That desire in the children to rise up, as did Abraham being the type of what we are required to do, will bring some few to fulfill the promises.
And, finding there was greater happinessand peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers. It was conferred upon me from the fathers; it came down from the fathers, from the beginning of time, yea, even from the beginning, or before the foundation of the earth, down to the present time, even the right of the Firstborn. (Abraham 1:1-3)Abraham connected with the fathers in heaven and became a righteful heir. The right of the Firstborn is also connected with celestial glory which right was "before the foundation of the earth".
"They are they who are the church of the Firstborn. They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things—They are they who are priests and kings, who have received of his fulness, and of his glory; And are priests of the Most High, after the order of Melchizedek, which was after the order of Enoch, which was after the order of the Only Begotten Son. Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God. " (D&C 76:54-58)They are those who have joined the church of the Firstborn. Abraham "was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch" (JST Geneesis 14:25,27-28). The same order that D&C 76 describes. He had connected with the fathers in eternal glory receiving the promises made to the fathers before him. "Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God".
They are those "who have come to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of Enoch, and of the Firstborn" (vs 67) or received the covenant promised to the fathers in heaven. Who's "names are written in heaven" (vs 68). In Revelation 21 it speaks of the city of Enoch "I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (vs 2) and that they that join them "are written in the Lamb's book of life" (vs 27).
Sealing Through A Record:
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works." (Revelation 20:12)
"The books spoken of [See Revelation 20:12] must be the books which contained the record of their works, and refer to the records which are kept on the earth. And the book which was the book of life is the record which is kept in heaven;...that in all your recordings it may be recorded in heaven." (D&C 128:7)
“It is granted that whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Or, in other words, taking a different view of the translation, whatsoever you record on earth shall be recorded in heaven, and whatsoever you do not record on earth shall not be recorded in heaven...It may seem to some to be a very bold doctrine that we talk of—a power which records or binds on earth and binds in heaven. Nevertheless, in all ages of the world, whenever the Lord has given a dispensation of the priesthood to any man by actual revelation, or any set of men, this power has always been given. Hence, whatsoever those men did in authority, in the name of the Lord, and did it truly and faithfully, and kept a proper and faithful record of the same, it became a law on earth and in heaven, and could not be annulled, according to the decrees of the great Jehovah... Now the great and grand secret of the whole matter, and the summum bonum of the whole subject that is lying before us, consists in obtaining the powers of the Holy Priesthood. For him to whom these keys are given there is no difficulty in obtaining a knowledge of facts in relation to the salvation of the children of men, both as well for the dead as for the living.” (D&C 128:8-11 )I want to point out "whatsoever you do not record on earth shall not be recorded in heaven". Records were so important to the Lord that when He visited the Nephites He asked them "How be it that ye have not written this thing [concerning Samuel the Lamanite], that many saints did arise and appear unto many and did minister unto them?" (3 Nephi 23:9-13) After they realized they had not yet recorded the event, "Jesus commanded that it should be written" (vs 13)
Nephi was one who attained to the sealing power. It reads in 2 Nephi,
“And now, behold, my brethren, I have spoken unto you, according as the Spirit hath constrained me; wherefore, I know that they must surely come to pass. And the things which shall be written out of the book shall be of great worth unto the children of men, and especially unto our seed, which is a remnant of the house of Israel.” (2 Nephi 28:1-2)Nephi held power from God in the words he used. Therefore he could “know that they must surely come to pass” because he sealed them as he wrote them. (D&C 1: 38.) For any person holding the sealing authority, the authority requires an alignment between the Lords servant, the Lord and the Lord’s will. Those who have this authority will not do anything contrary to the will of the Lord. (Helaman 10: 5.) It is because of this trust between the Lord and His messenger that the power is given to the man. Nephi was such a man. His book contained a seal upon it bearing the power of God. Nephi knew. Knowledge came from Christ. Nephi knew Christ. (2 Nephi 11: 3)
Notice Nephi’s prophecy is that “words which shall be written out of the book” rather than the book itself. This is, of course, exactly what we have. The actual book has been withheld. Only words from the book have been given us. But those words are intended to be of great worth to mankind.
These words are given to us by Him, through a servant possessing authority to seal them up. We cannot prevent them from happening. We can, however, align ourselves with them and in turn be saved as well.
Part 3: Words Convey Ideas