Making Sense of God's Plan
Updated: Jan 8
God told Moses that it is his work and his glory to "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39) By eternal life God means he wants us to be like him. But we are so insignificant compared to Him that this might seem an impossible task. Although we do not know all of the things that we must go through, Heavenly Father has revealed covenants and laws which are designed to help us become like him. Using the theory of neurological intelligence along side gospel truths we can uncover what heaven is like, and why making covenants with God helps us to get there. This dive into God's plan of salvation uses knowledge learned from the first two blog posts "The Basics of Neurological Intelligence", and "Meta-Ethics". If you haven't read them, then go do that.
Laws Of Heaven
Heaven is a place, with people. People who were at one point imperfect like you and me. This is a good thing though. It means that any society has a chance to become heavenly. We know this from the story of Zion the City of Enoch. A city that became so perfect that God took it to heaven. This city did not start out perfect; it became perfect by following the council of the prophet Enoch.
God has told us through another prophet, Joseph Smith, that for a people to become a Zion people we must follow certain laws. He taught “There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of the world, upon which all blessings are predicated- and when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to the law upon which it is predicated.”(D&C 130:20-21)
The most important of these blessings is the blessings of intelligence. As we obey God's laws he is able to organize us into societies of higher intelligence, freeing us up to have "one heart and one mind." The laws of heaven are Obedience, Sacrifice, the Gospel, Chastity, and Consecration. When you understand how these laws build society you will see why “the glory of God is intelligence”(D&C 93:36).
The Law of Obedience means that we keep God’s commandments, such as the ten commandments. This law is predicated on the social contract ethic. God understands which social contracts are beneficial to everyone, so he made the most important ones into commandments for society to follow. When people commit to the law of obedience, then justice is able to guide and protect society, and larger social structures such as governments and religions can form.
The Law of Sacrifice means that we will sacrifice a broken heart and a contrite spirit to God. Our sacrifice for God is in similitude of the sacrifice of his only begotten son for us. Because of his sacrifice, we are able to overcome sin and death. This sacrifice has no cleansing effect if we are not willing to sacrifice a broken heart and a contrite spirit. With the law of sacrifice we also promise to sacrifice all that Christ asks of us, even to the laying down of our lives if necessary. This law is predicated on the common good ethic because we are making sacrifices in order to help the common good of society. By committing to the law of sacrifice we are able to help bring about God’s mighty works.
The Law of the Gospel means that we have faith in Christ, we want to improve, and strive to get along with our neighbors. The gospel is the good news which Jesus brings. Jesus said “This is my doctrine, that [anger and contentions] should be done away.”(3 Nephi 11:30) The law of his Gospel includes avoiding all evil practices. This law is predicated on the negotiation ethic. When we desire to help our neighbors and treat them as equals we will also be willing to “bear one another’s burdens that they may be light, … mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort”. (Mosiah 18:8,9)
The Law of Chastity means that the people of God’s kingdom shall not have any sexual relations outside of a marriage performed in the Lord’s way. When people obey the law of chastity it allows them to form healthy relationships with others, it allows their families to be strong and resilient, and it allows their children to grow up with security and love. This law is predicated on the responsibility ethic. God’s law shows us that our most important responsibility is to our family. God does not want us to form relationships that we are not committed to being responsible for, and he especially does not want us bringing children into the world that we do not plan to take care of. Obedience to this law also blesses individuals with greater self control. A society's ability to progress is dependent on the strength of its families, which are society’s basic unit. The proper preparedness of future generations depends on strong family relationships. Living the law of chastity also means a society will suffer less from crime and heartbreaks.
The Law of Consecration means that all of our time, talents and efforts are used for the building up of the kingdom of God. In these last days that kingdom on earth is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When people live the law of consecration they become of “one heart and one mind”(Moses 7:18). So just as your body which is of one heart and mind can coordinate its movements perfectly, a society which practices the law of consecration can have similar grace and power. This law is predicated on the accountability ethic. We are to stand accountable before god for all the things that we do.
Calling and Election Made Sure
There is a sixth ethic, and accordingly, a sixth law of heaven. This sixth law is called having your calling and election made sure. When someone’s calling is made sure they understand the things that they need to do to help God to build his kingdom, and they are obligated to always live their calling and election. This law is much more personal than the others, and not everyone is obligated to live it, but Joseph Smith states that everyone should strive to have their calling and election made sure. To the people who are living this law it becomes hard for them to “bear that any human soul should perish”.(Mosiah 28:3) And they act as "Saviors on mount Zion." In the scriptures some people have been obligated to live this law after being visited by angels, or by Jesus himself. This law follows the sixth ethic because as part of your calling you are obligated to help your heavenly father in “bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” You are obligated to bring mercy and healing to those who need it.
What Heaven is Like
These laws are called the laws of heaven because they are practiced in heaven, and can make any society like heaven. Because there are many levels of intelligence there are also many levels of heaven. Jesus said “In my father’s house are many mansions.”(John 14:2) From modern revelation we have come to know that these mansions are kingdoms of glory, or kingdoms of intelligence. The Joseph Smith told us that for us to live in one of these kingdoms we must obey the law of that kingdom. “And unto every kingdom there is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions. All beings who abide not in those conditions are not justified. For intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence.”(D&C 88:38-40) There are three kingdoms in heaven.
Telestial Kingdom: The lowest kingdom of heaven called the Terrestrial kingdom is for those who obey the law of obedience, and are working on living the lower laws of sacrifice, and the gospel. (D&C 76: 82-85)
Terrestrial Kingdom: The middle kingdom, called the Telestial kingdom is for people who obey the lower laws, and are working on obeying the higher laws of Chastity, and Consecration. (D&C 76: 72-79)
Celestial Kingdom: The highest kingdom in heaven is the celestial kingdom. This is reserved for those who obey the first five laws of heaven, and are working on, or already obey, the sixth law to have their calling and election made sure. This kingdom is where God dwells. (D&C 76: 51-53)
What Hell is Like
If you do not reach any of these requirements you will be confined to a kingdom called outer darkness. This is not a kingdom of heaven nor does it have any glory. The condition to obtaining this kingdom is written in the doctrine and covenants “That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin, and altogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgement. Therefore, they must remain filthy still.”(D&C 88:35)
We are Creating Heaven
The laws of heaven are what give heaven its glory. After we die and are resurrected we will be judged according to the law which we strived to obey on earth, and we will be sent to the kingdom where we fit in. Mortal life is a time to prepare us to live those laws so that we can excel and contribute in whatever kingdom of heaven we obtain. These kingdoms will have different governmental structures best suited for helping the people that live there. By living the laws of heaven now we allow God to build his kingdom, and eventually heaven, on earth.
Covenants With God
But what, you might ask, are the actual governments that God will set up in the kingdoms of heaven? How can God use our obedience to organize us into highly intelligent societies? He uses covenants. Obedience to the laws of God are prerequisites for making covenants with him. There are four covenants that we can make with God. Each covenant allows us to act in a more capable manner as part of his kingdom. With every covenant that we make we take on a new identity, we also perform an ordinance, or a sacred ritual, which reminds us of the purpose of the covenant we made, and tells us how we can live it more fully, and we obtain a new form of relationship. These things, as we learned from the theory of neurological intelligence, let us be a functional member of the superintelligence which is heaven.
Law: The first ordinance we performed before this life. In heaven there was a council with all of the children of God, including his noble and great children. “And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them; And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon.”(Abraham 3:24-26) In this council we all chose to accept this plan, our first covenant. A prerequisite to accepting this plan was to live the law of obedience, and the law of sacrifice.
Identity: The identity we were given in this covenant was a name-title. For example Jehovah is a name-title meaning The Great I Am, and Adam is a name-title meaning earthling. The ordinance of choosing to accept God and be in his presence reminds us "do all things whatsoever the Lord [our] God shall command [us]". This is a demonstration of our faith.
Relationship: The relationship we were given was to be a part of God’s kingdom, or to keep our first estate, instead of being cast out like Satan.
Law: The second covenant is coming here to earth. Before coming to earth there was a war in heaven. In this war we had to choose between God’s plan or Satan’s. As we fought to defend the plan of God we showed that we would live the law of the Gospel, and that we were ready to come to earth.
Identity: The new identity we gained as we came to earth is our names. By your actions you define what your name means to others.
Method: This life is a time of growth, where we learn to work together to solve common problems. The method of intelligence that we need to survive in this life is called repentance. Repentance means to reflect on the consequences of the choices you have been making, then change your behavior so that you will have better consequences. The prophet Lehi taught that repentance is one of the purposes of this life: “And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men.”(2 Nephi 2:21)
Relationship: The type of relationship that we acquired is to be a part of the human family. In the scriptures this is called your second estate. You also become part of the family you were born into. The Lord promises that “they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.”(Abraham 3:26)
Law: The third covenant is baptism. In order to be baptized you must demonstrate that you have a testimony of Jesus Christ, and of the priesthood authority that he has given to his servants. You must also demonstrate that you are willing to obey all of Christ’s commandments, including the law of chastity.
Identity: When you are baptized you are immersed in water as a symbol of your sins being washed away by the death and resurrection of the Savior. Jesus Christ was baptized to “fulfil all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15) By following Jesus’s example and being baptized we take his name upon ourselves as our new identity. To take his name upon us includes always remembering him, and keeping his commandments which he has given us.
Method: Taking his name upon us it qualifies us to be cleansed from sin, and for the companionship of the Holy Spirit. The companionship of, or the gift of, the Holy Ghost is received by the laying on of hands. (Articles of Faith 1:4) When you testify of Christ and try to do what he would do the Holy Spirit testifies of that truth, and refines you as if by fire. Nephi calls this “the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost”. The receiving of the gift of the holy ghost together with being cleansed from sin is this covenant’s method of learning. The Holy Spirit will guide you throughout your life warning you of dangers especially spiritual dangers, and directing you on how to help your fellow men.
Relationship: Finally through baptism you are accepted into Christ’s church which is your new type of relationship. The purpose of the church is for the “perfecting of the saints, the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the body of Christ. Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13) In the church we have the chance to help each other take Christ’s name upon us, and experience the refining fire of the Holy Spirit.
Law: The fourth covenant is the sealing covenant. During this covenant you promise to obey the law of consecration, and you promise again to live the first four laws of heaven.
Identity: The sealing covenant is split into three ordinances. The first ordinance, called the initiatory ordinance is where you receive an identity. For men you are washed and anointed to become a King and a Priest in the Kingdom of God. For women you are washed and anointed to become a Queen and a Priestess in the Kingdom of God.
Method: The second ordinance is called the endowment, this is where you learn the ordinance’s method of intelligence. This method is taught using God’s plan of salvation which helps us understand how to get to heaven, and stay safe from sin. You learn the difference between right and wrong, and how to seek the Lord's help through prayer. During this ordinance you also promise to obey the first five laws of heaven. By obeying those laws, and following the direction you learned from the plan of salvation, you are endowed with knowledge and power that will guide your life, and help you and your family to reach heaven.
Relationship: The last ordinance is the sealing ordinance, where all the blessings of eternal life are sealed upon you and your spouse. You are also sealed to your spouse and children as a family for all eternity, instead of until death like traditional marriages. Being part of an eternal family is the relationship of the last covenant. The sealing ordinance also connects parents to children. The prophet Wilford Woodruff taught that we should be sealed to our parents, and them to their parents, and so on in an unbroken chain back as far as we can find records of our ancestors. In this way the hearts of the fathers shall be turned to the children, and the hearts of the children shall be turned to the fathers.
The Holy Spirit of Promise
After receiving your covenants they can be sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise. This sealing is a assurance from God which He explains in the scriptures as follows: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man marry a wife according to my word, and they are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, according to mine appointment, and he or she shall commit any sin or transgression of the new and everlasting covenant whatever, and all manner of blasphemies, and if they commit no murder wherein they shed innocent blood, yet they shall come forth in the first resurrection, and enter into their exaltation; but they shall be destroyed in the flesh, and shall be delivered unto the buffetings of Satan unto the day of redemption, saith the Lord God.”(Doctrine and Covenants 132:26) This is a form of mercy that God extends to us. He will not give up on you no matter what path your life takes, instead he will chastise you until you repent, and this will ensure that you can come forth in the first resurrection.
Ordinances For the Dead
The covenants we make with God allow Him to organize us into the kingdom of heaven. Thus in heaven we would expect to see family structures, and a church. Interestingly this means that anyone who wishes to go to heaven must make the covenants necessary to function as part of that heavenly society, even the people who have died before having the chance to be baptized or sealed. These people need to have the ordinances of these covenants performed for them by someone who is living. Afterward that person can either choose to make a covenant with God, or reject the ordinance performed. These covenants with God will take affect after their resurrection, which is explained by the apostle Paul. “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?”(1 Corinthians 15:29) After the resurrection, the faithful saints who lived on this earth will form the kingdom of heaven. In heaven we will help each other to choose the right. When we do this perfectly we are saved from sin, because Satan can have no power over us. From this we can understand another thing that Paul taught, “that [our ancestors] without us cannot be made perfect- neither can we without our dead be made perfect.”(D&C 128:15)