The following websites contain the works of Avraham Gileadi Ph.D. on the Book of Isaiah: — An interactive website on the prophecy of Isaiah explaining how literary features conceal and reveal its apocalyptic message. — A website on the prophecy of Isaiah featuring webinars and audio and audio-visual aids that teach Isaiah’s apocalyptic message.

Journey of Self-Transformation: From Sons & Daughters of Christ to Becoming as He Is

Hebraeus Foundation Zion Conference May 19-20th 2017
Keynote Address - Avraham Gileadi

When Jesus promised his three Beloved Disciples that "ye shall be even as I am, and I am even as the Father" (3 Nephi 28:10), he signified to them in so many words that they would become Saviors of worlds. While on the one hand he informed his Nephite disciples that "the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do" (3 Nephi 27:11), on the other he had made clear to his Jewish disciples that "the Son can do nothing of himself but what he sees the Father do. For whatsoever things he does, these also the Son does likewise" (John 5:19).

Isaiah's hierarchy of ascending levels on a spiritual ladder helps clarify the idea of ascent to godhood. As no commandment Jesus gives is impossible to keep, his telling his Jewish disciples to "be ye perfect even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48) was intended literally. His later inclusion of himself in that degree of perfection to his Nephite disciples, saying, "I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect" (3 Nephi 12:48), informs us that his atonement for this world's transgressions was an essential part of attaining his own perfection.

The perfection of which Jesus is speaking is thus relative to the degree of his spiritual ascent that qualified him to atone for this world's transgressions. When he tells his Jewish disciples, "I cast out devils and do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected" (Luke 13:32), he is alluding to his upcoming atoning death and resurrection. Because our attaining perfection is directly related to our sufferings for Christ's sake (1 Peter 5:10), so the Father's will, which Jesus came to fulfill (John 6:38), was "to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings" (Hebrews 2:10).

While "just men made perfect" (Hebrews 12:23) have achieved perfection on a celestial level (Doctrine & Covenants 76:69), they haven't yet attained the perfection of Jesus Christ. To become "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4), they too must go from grace to grace as Jesus did: "I, John, saw that he received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace; And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness; And thus he was called the Son of God, because he received not of the fulness at the first" (Doctrine & Covenants 93:12-14).

That mortals may become "gods, and all of you sons of the Most High" (Psalms 86:2), therefore, forms a foreordained part of the Father's plan. His sending Jesus as "the Savior of the world" (Doctrine & Covenants 43:34) became the signal event toward fulfilling his goal for this world's inhabitants. Because, as Jesus declared, "No man comes to the Father but by me" (John 14:6), our first step is to "come unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of God" (Jacob 1:7); to "come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift"-in effect, to "come unto Christ, and be perfected in him" (Moroni 10:30, 32).

To be perfect "even as" Christ is perfect, on the other hand, or "even as" our Father in Heaven is perfect, means nothing less than that those who attain that degree of perfection become Christs and Fathers in Heaven themselves. Anything less would invalidate God's word. Because our attaining perfection is achieved experientially in our journeys through mortality, so was theirs. By doing the things we have seen Jesus do-even as Jesus did only those things he saw the Father do-we too may attain their glory: "For the Father loves the Son and shows him all things that he himself does" (John 5:20).

If we continue from grace to grace on our journeys through mortality; and if, as Jesus was called the Son of God, so we are called Jesus' sons and daughters; and if we go on and attain a "fulness" of grace as he attained it, what is the process? Nephi the son of Helaman, on whom Jesus bestowed the sealing power, exhorts his people, "May God grant, in his great fulness, that men might be brought unto repentance and good works, that they might be restored unto grace for grace, according to their works" (Helaman 12:24). In other words, God's granting his grace occurs in proportion to men's "works."

Jesus defines those works: "If you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace" (Doctrine & Covenants 93:20). God's grace, however, is inseparable from his truth: "I, John, bear record that I beheld his glory, as the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, even the Spirit of truth, which came and dwelt in the flesh" (Doctrine & Covenants 93:11). Nephi concurs: "Redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth" (2 Nephi 2:6).

Receiving a fulness of grace thus goes hand in hand with receiving a fulness of truth: "The Spirit of truth is of God. I am the Spirit of truth, and John bore record of me, saying: He received a fulness of truth, yea, even of all truth; And no man receiveth a fulness unless he keepeth his commandments. He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things" (Doctrine & Covenants 93:26-28). Paul alludes to this process as "the gospel of God's grace" (Acts 20:24), which gospel, he asserts, pertains to "the dispensation of God's grace" (Ephesians 3:2).

The interrelationship of grace and truth tells us that we cannot benefit from the one without the other. Indeed, it seems self-evident that truth precedes grace, as God could hardly bless a person with his grace who pursues a course that isn't grounded in the truth. On the other hand, our coming to the knowledge of God's truth may itself depend on an endowment of God's grace-on what we might call an initial infusion of grace to see what we will do with it. Either way, the truth that we seek, which leads to our continuing from "grace to grace," pertains to the "gospel of grace"-the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Because all commandments of God-the "works" we must perform-form an inherent part of a covenant between God and his people, Jesus' commandments constitute the terms or conditions under which we become his sons and daughters. That is what King Benjamin taught: "Because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters" Mosiah 5:7).

The covenant King Benjamin's people made-by which they were "begotten" of Christ on a higher spiritual level-Christ offers to all this world's inhabitants: "In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters" (Ether 3:14). And again, "Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters" (Mosiah 27:25).

More specifically, the covenant King Benjamin's people made involved their taking upon themselves the name of Jesus and doing all things in his name (Mosiah 5:5-15)-just as Jesus took upon himself the name of his Father and did all things in his name. As he says, "I have come in my Father's name" (John 5:43); "I do nothing of myself, but as my Father has taught me so I speak these things. And he who sent me is with me. The Father has not left me alone because I do always those things that please him" (John 8:28-29); "The works I do in my Father's name bear witness of me" (John 10:25-26).

That King Benjamin's people had "viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth" (Mosiah 4:2), had gained a sense of "the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures" (Mosiah 4:11), and had applied "the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified" (Mosiah 4:2), brought upon them the Spirit of the Lord so that they "tasted of his love" and "received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls" (Mosiah 4:11).

Just as Jesus saw himself able to "do nothing of himself" (John 5:19, 30), so our viewing our own nothingness-while at the same time perceiving "the goodness of God, and his matchless power, and his wisdom, and his patience, and his long-suffering towards the children of men; and also, the atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world" (Mosiah 4:6)-thus forms a prerequisite for our becoming sons and daughters of Christ. Taking upon ourselves the name of Christ, moreover, who is "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6), makes us witnesses of what he represents.

If, like King Benjamin's people, we "retain a remission of your sins" once we obtain it, we too will "grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true" (Mosiah 4:12). By keeping Jesus' commandments, we will increase in light and truth as the Father sheds forth his grace upon us: "Ye are little children and ye cannot bear all things now; ye must grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth" (Doctrine & Covenants 50:40). In that manner, being "justified by his grace," we become "heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:7).

Not only are we justified in Christ, therefore-"being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:24)-we are also sanctified by him: "We know that justification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true; 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" (Doctrine & Covenants 20:30-31). Such sanctification typifies the perfection process that continues beyond a saved state to an exalted state.

Freed from sin through "the atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world" (Mosiah 4:6), we proceed beyond "the first principles of the oracles of God" (Hebrews 5:12) and "go on to perfection" (Hebrews 6:1)-from the "milk" of the gospel to "strong meat" (Hebrews 5:12-14). Says Moroni, "Come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ" (Moroni 10:32).

To "deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength," which leads to perfection, is thus the same process in which men "love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength" that leads to sanctification: "And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot" (Moroni 10:33). In either case, "all ungodliness" is absent.

In that sense, being "sanctified in Christ" (1 Corinthians 1:2) resembles being "perfected in him" (Moroni 10:32)-that is, for "all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength," as nothing less gets us there. To the rich young man, for example, Jesus said, "If you will be perfect, go and sell what you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven, and come, follow me" (Matthew 19:21). And, in reference to Jesus' own perfection process, Paul observed, "Being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation to all those who obey him" (Hebrews 5:9).

 Being "sanctified in Christ" and "perfected in him" thus means following Jesus, who asked his Father, "Sanctify them through your truth-your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sake I sanctify myself that they also might be sanctified through the truth. . . . And the glory you gave me I have given them that they may be one even as we are one-I in them and you in me that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know you have sent me and have loved them as you have loved me" (John 17:18-19, 22-23).

In effect, he "whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world" (John 10:36), who was "made perfect" (Hebrews 5:9) by doing the things he saw his Father do (John 5:19), embodies the very means of our being sanctified and made perfect, he being "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). The way, because he paves the path to our becoming "sons of the Most High" (Psalms 86:2); the truth, because he personifies the truth and teaches the truth (Ephesians 4:21); the life, because he has "life in himself" given him of the Father (John 5:26) and is the source of "everlasting life" (John 4:14).

In that light, the "power of God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16) parallels the power of God unto exaltation. Says Christ, "Strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me. But 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. This is eternal lives-to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law" (Doctrine & Covenants 132:22-24).

Because "that which is governed by law is also preserved by law and perfected and sanctified by the same" (Doctrine & Covenants 88:34), receiving Christ "in the world" means being valiant in bearing testimony of him to the world. Unlike lower spiritual levels, which are "not valiant in the testimony of Jesus" (Doctrine & Covenants 76:79) or in the testimony of the truth, we must "bear testimony of the truth in all places" (Doctrine & Covenants 58:47)-that is, "of the word of God and of the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 1:2)-and be willing to "suffer shame for his name" (Acts 5:41).

As mentioned, our becoming "sanctified through the truth" (John 17:19) involves keeping his commandments, which are his law or the terms of his covenant, as we read, "He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things" (Doctrine & Covenants 93:28; emphasis added). As we more fully "come unto Christ"-who embodies light and truth (Alma 38:9)-we thus more fully grow in light and truth. And as Christ "knoweth all things" (Doctrine & Covenants 38:2), so we increase in light and truth until we are "glorified in truth" and know all things.

Being "glorified in truth" evidently reflects a point of spiritual advancement far beyond the early learner stage. As Jesus was glorified by the works he performed (cf. John 11:4), so may we be glorified, as we read earlier: "If you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace" (Doctrine & Covenants 93:20)-the purpose being "that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thessalonians 1:12).

Of course, to be "glorified in truth" and "know all things" includes knowing "the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent," which constitutes "eternal life" (John 17:3) or "eternal lives" (Doctrine & Covenants 132:24). He therefore counsels us to "sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will" (Doctrine & Covenants 88:68). Through that process men will "see my face and know that I am" (Doctrine & Covenants 93:1).

That is what the Brother of Jared saw and knew: "The Lord said unto him: Believest thou the words which I shall speak? And he answered: Yea, Lord, I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie. And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said: Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you. Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ" (Ether 3:11-14).

Christ's showing the Brother of Jared not only himself but also "all things," on the other hand, became a part of the Brother of Jared's experience: "And when the Lord had said these words, he showed unto the brother of Jared all the inhabitants of the earth which had been, and also all that would be; and he withheld them not from his sight, even unto the ends of the earth. For he had said unto him in times before, that if he would believe in him that he could show unto him all things-it should be shown unto him; therefore the Lord could not withhold anything from him" (Ether 3:25-26; emphasis added).

And as with the Brother of Jared, so with us. The idea of our "knowing" all things (Doctrine & Covenants 93:28) implies Jesus' "showing" us all things. Hence his promise to the latter-day Ephraimites who have come through the lineages of the Gentiles: "In that day that they shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, saith Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (Ether 4:7). Wasn't the Brother of Jared a Gentile, too?

Another person who saw Jesus Christ and "all things" was Moses: "And he saw God face to face, and he talked with him, and the glory of God was upon Moses; therefore Moses could endure his presence. . . . And now, behold, this one thing I show unto thee, Moses, my son, for thou art in the world, and now I show it unto thee. And it came to pass that Moses looked, and beheld the world upon which he was created; and Moses beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created; of the same he greatly marveled and wondered" (Moses 1:2, 7-8).

Enoch, too, saw God and "all things," which he showed him: "I saw the Lord; and he stood before my face, and he talked with me, even as a man talketh one with another, face to face" (Moses 7:4); "And it came to pass that the Lord showed unto Enoch all the inhabitants of the earth" (Moses 7:21); "And the Lord showed Enoch all things, even unto the end of the world" (Moses 7:67). The scriptural pattern is thus clear. Even as the Father "shows him [Jesus] all things that he himself does" (John 5:20), so Jesus shows those who perfect and sanctify themselves "all things" that he himself does.

So when Paul says, "The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearance of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:11-13), he may have in mind not some distant event but Jesus' appearing personally as he appeared to the Brother of Jared, to Moses and Enoch. Our exercising faith in him, therefore-"even as the brother of Jared" (Ether 4:7)-Jesus makes an essential part of knowing him.

Is that what the scriptures mean that speak of our being "sanctified by faith" in Christ (Acts 26:18); or, "If ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God" (Moroni 10:33)? Sanctification, faith, and power here appear inextricably linked. So when the scriptures record events such as, "We have gained power over you, by our faith" (Alma 44:5) and "The Lord had granted unto them power, according to their faith which was in Christ" (Alma 14:28), aren't they saying that "without faith you can do nothing" (Doctrine & Covenants 8:10)?

Aren't they inferring that "without faith it is impossible to please [God], for he who comes to God must believe that he is and is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him" (Hebrews 11:6); that "without faith there cannot be any hope" (Moroni 7:42); and that "without faith shall not anything be shown forth except desolations upon Babylon" (Doctrine & Covenants 35:11)? Says Moroni, "For it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men" (Moroni 7:37). And, as we have seen, not only angels appear but also Christ himself, in our day as in days past.

Exercising faith "even as the brother of Jared," on the other hand, entails more than just exercising a strong desire and offering a heartfelt prayer. As James says, "Do you realize, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Wasn't our father Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? Do you see how faith operated through his works, and that by works [his] faith was made perfect-and how the scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God and it was imputed to him as righteousness, and [therefore] he was called the Friend of God?" (James 2:20-23).

Consider the "works" the Brother of Jared performed that preceded his seeing the Lord and seeing "all things." On faith, he built eight barges to house his people and their animals so they could cross the seas. He smelted sixteen stones to light them, all the while conversing with the Lord through the veil until he had fulfilled the measure of his "works" that led him into the presence of the Lord. Jesus' linking the Gentiles' repenting of their iniquity, becoming clean before him, and exercising faith in him to their being "sanctified" in him (Ether 4:6-7) shows the interplay of these gospel principles.

If "ungodliness and worldly lusts" stand in the way of completing our journey, on the other hand, shall we not abort the process? Perhaps a rendition of those terms more relevant to today's culture translates into "improprieties and user addictions." Because these are an inherent part of our Western culture, we may not even perceive some of them as harmful. Is there room in persons who love God with all their might, mind, and strength for entertaining what is frivolous or extraneous? Can a man be "holy, without spot" (Moroni 10:33) who isn't "cleansed every whit from his iniquity" (3 Nephi 8:1)?

Says James, "Submit yourselves, therefore, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded" (James 4:7-8). Says Peter, "God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God that he may exalt you in due time" (1 Peter 5:5-6). Even so, we "must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham. . . . For all those who will not endure chastening, but deny me, cannot be sanctified" (Doctrine & Covenants 101:4-5).

Abraham, whom God commanded to "walk before me and be perfect" (Genesis 17:1), wasn't perfect to begin with. Born into an idolatrous civilization that suffered the curse of a famine (Genesis 26:1; Abraham 1:5, 30), Abraham not only took ownership of his generational iniquities or dysfunctional patterns-reversing the curse for himself and succeeding generations-he additionally "sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same" (Abraham 1:2). His desire for greater light and truth was no doubt inspired by Melchizedek, his ancestor.

Says, Abraham, "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" (Abraham 1:2). In the process, God tried him with the potential loss of his life (Abraham 1:12, 15-19), his wife (Genesis 12:14-15), and his only begotten son by Sarah (Genesis 22:1-12).

To attain godhood as Abraham attained it, therefore (Doctrine & Covenants 132:37), we must "do the works of Abraham" (John 8:39) and "offer your whole souls as an offering" to God (Omni 1:26), "willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father" (Mosiah 3:19). Those things also did Jesus: "I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning" (3 Nephi 11:11).

Says Peter, "The God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, make you perfect" (1 Peter 5:10). And again, "Because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that you should follow his footsteps" (1 Peter 2:21). As with Jesus, our suffering in his name thus forms an essential part in our attaining perfection: "If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever will save his life shall lose it, but whoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it" (Luke 9:23-24).

Says Paul, "We are the children of God. And if children, then heirs-heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ-if it so be that we suffer with [him], that we may also be glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us" (Romans 8:16-18). What Paul is saying is that the heavenly reward of our suffering in Jesus' name is exponentially far in excess of the things we suffer here and now. What is it, then, in America's pill-popping culture, that so decries the need to suffer when the scriptures say otherwise?

Following in Jesus' footsteps and suffering "with him" may go far beyond suffering for our own sins, as it says, "What glory is there, when you are buffeted for your faults, you take it patiently?  But when you do well and suffer for it, and take it patiently, that is acceptable to God" (1 Peter 2:20). Such suffering commonly takes the form of persecution for Jesus' sake: "To you it is given on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him but also to suffer for his sake" (Philippians 1:29). Says Jesus, "The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:20).

Indeed, "All who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12) so that it is a measure of our righteousness and a cause for our glory or exaltation: "If we suffer, we will also reign with [him]. But if we deny [him], he will also deny us" (2 Timothy 2:12); "All they who suffer persecution for my name, and endure in faith, though they are called to lay down their lives for my sake yet shall they partake of all this glory" (Doctrine & Covenants 101:35). That was the pattern Jesus established: "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into his glory?" (Luke 24:25).

For that reason-in order to attain the same glory-we enter into these things with our eyes open: "We see that Jesus, who in suffering death was made a little lower than the angels, was crowned with glory and honor because through the grace of God he would taste death for every man. For it became him-for whom all things are and by whom all things are-in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all of one, for which reason he isn't ashamed to call them brethren" (Hebrew 2:9-11).

Much suffering we endure or cause in others stems from pride: "I have spoken unto you concerning pride; and those of you which have afflicted your neighbor, and persecuted him because ye were proud in your hearts, of the things which God hath given you" (Jacob 2:20). And this, from Alma: "The people of the church began to be lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and to set their hearts upon riches and upon the vain things of the world, that they began to be scornful, one towards another, and they began to persecute those that did not believe according to their own will and pleasure (Alma 4:8).

Hence, pride leads to division: "They were lifted up in pride, even to the persecution of many of their brethren. Now this was a great evil, which did cause the more humble part of the people to suffer great persecutions, and to wade through much affliction. Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God" (Helaman 3:34-35).

The suffering we incur for Jesus' sake or for the truth's sake thus purifies and sanctifies us if we bear it well. Said the Lord to Joseph Smith, "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes" (Doctrine & Covenants 121:7-8). Of the ancient prophets, James recounted, "My brethren, take the prophets who have spoken in the name of the Lord for an example of suffering affliction and of patience. See, we count those happy who endure" (James 5:10-11).

Jesus' words to his disciples concerning their suffering for his sake contains innuendos: "Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and speak all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you" (Matthew 5:11-12). In other words, it is inevitable that when you follow Jesus in all things you will be persecuted to that degree that people will single you out and speak evil of you; and that when you reach that point you are on the spiritual level of a prophet.

Of course, suffering may take many forms besides persecution. Illnesses, injuries, disabilities, and simply life's hardships-all may contribute to our daily crosses. Each, however, serves as an opportunity not to be lost toward our becoming purified and sanctified, constituting an "acceptable sacrifice" to God if we willingly offer it up: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1). As that attitude becomes habitual in us over time, we experience a transformation.

The highest form of suffering we may endure, on the other hand, is redemptive suffering. In this we emulate Christ, who suffered for others' sake, not his own. By paying the price for other's temporal salvation as under the term of the Davidic Covenant, we fulfil the role of spiritual kings and queens as Nephi did in his day, of whom Jacob said, "unto whom ye look as a king or a protector, and on whom ye depend for safety" (2 Nephi 6:2). That defines the role of saviors on Mount Zion: "Saviors will come up on Mount Zion to judge the Mount of Esau, and the kingdom will be the Lord's" (Obadiah 1:21).

The Brother of Jared fulfilled that role. When he "did cry unto the Lord" (Ether 1:35) and did "inquire of the Lord" (Ether 1:38), the Lord heard him and guided his people on their way to the Promised Land. But when the Brother of Jared "remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord," the Lord "chastened him" (Ether 2:14). Thereafter, "the brother of Jared repented of the evil which he had done, and did call upon the name of the Lord for his brethren who were with him" (Ether 2:15). To his people, the Brother of Jared similarly served as "a king or a protector, and on whom ye depend for safety."

In fulfilling that role, King Hezekiah suffered a deathly illness before God delivered his people from the besieging Assyrians: "Go and tell Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of your father David: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; I will protect this city" (Isaiah 38:4-6); "I will protect this city and save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David. Then the angel of the Lord went out and slew a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp" (Isaiah 37:35-36).

Paul, who suffered persecution, imprisonment, and torture, offered it up willingly as an acceptable sacrifice: "I endure all things for the elect's sake, that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory" (2 Timothy 2:10). Paul went so far as to "rejoice in my sufferings for you, filling up that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church" (Colossians 1:24). He took "pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake, for when I am weak, then am I strong" (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Among the Nephites, there often occurred a "great inequality among the people, some lifting themselves up with their pride, despising others, turning their backs upon the needy and the naked and those who were hungry, and those who were athirst, and those who were sick and afflicted. Now this was a great cause for lamentations among the people, while others were abasing themselves, succoring those who stood in need of their succor, such as imparting their substance to the poor and the needy, feeding the hungry, and suffering all manner of afflictions, for Christ's sake" (Alma 4:12-13).

Although we may suffer for Christ's sake, for the truth's sake, or in the course of serving as saviors to others, God's Holy Spirit will be a Comforter in the midst of our tears. Our purification and sanctification will be assured: "The remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer" (Moroni 8:26). God promises us that in the midst of our trials "I will not leave you comfortless-I will come to you" (John 14:19).

As trials intensify, so does the comfort God extends from on high: "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. This Comforter is the promise which I give unto you of eternal life, even the glory of the celestial kingdom" (Doctrine & Covenants 88:3-4). To be "sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise" is thus to receive an "earnest of our inheritance" (Ephesians 1:13-14)-God's guarantee of eternal life.

Transitioning from sons and daughters of Christ to becoming his "friends" who are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise marks a new relationship with Christ and with the Father that we attain on a higher spiritual level. The commandments we keep as we habituate from feasting on the words of Christ in the scriptures that "tell you all things what ye should do" (2 Nephi 32:3) to being guided at all times by the Holy Ghost who "show[s] unto you all things what ye should do" (2 Nephi 32:5) to Christ personally telling us what should "observe to do" (2 Nephi 32:6), pertain to ever higher laws and covenants.

Says Jesus, "You are my friends, if you do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knows not what his lord does. But I have called you friends, for all things I have heard of my Father I have made known to you" (John 15:14-15). Like Abraham, who knew God personally and "was called the Friend of God" (James 2:23), so "the day shall come when you shall comprehend even God, being quickened in him and by him. Then shall ye know that ye have seen me, that I am, and that I am the true light that is in you, and that you are in me" (Doctrine & Covenants 88:49-50).

By the same token, as we transition upward toward a fulness of grace and truth, "it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment" (Moses 6:61). Those who are "quickened by a portion of the celestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness" (Doctrine & Covenants 88:29). As with Jesus' three Nephite disciples, we too may attain a translated state:

"There was a change wrought upon them, insomuch that Satan could have no power over them, that he could not tempt them; and they were sanctified in the flesh, that they were holy, and that the powers of the earth could not hold them" (3 Nephi 28:39). In the case of Nephi the son of Helaman, "The power of God was with him, and they could not take him to cast him into prison, for he was taken by the Spirit and conveyed away out of the midst of them" (Helaman 10:16). Being "quickened" even to a translated state could compare to a heavenly body that accumulates enough mass to start fusion.

What differentiated Jesus' three Beloved Disciples from the nine who found rest in Jesus' kingdom (3 Nephi 28:2-3) was that they "desired that ye might bring the souls of men unto me, while the world shall stand" (3 Nephi 28:9). For that reason they inherited "the kingdom of my Father" (3 Nephi 28:10). With regard to Nephi the son of Helaman, on the other hand, he "with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments" (Helaman 10:4).

The Three Nephites and others show where living the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ takes us: "The heavens were opened, and they were caught up into heaven, and saw and heard unspeakable things. And it was forbidden them that they should utter; neither was it given unto them power that they could utter the things which they saw and heard; And whether they were in the body or out of the body, they could not tell; for it did seem unto them like a transfiguration of them, that they were changed from this body of flesh into an immortal state, that they could behold the things of God" (3 Nephi 28:13-15).

Having attained the level of seraphs on Isaiah's spiritual ladder, they became "as the angels of God" (3 Nephi 28:30) for the duration of their earthly ministries. To them, Jesus' promise was that "your joy shall be full, even as the Father hath given me fulness of joy; and ye shall be even as I am, and I am even as the Father; and the Father and I are one" (3 Nephi 28:10). To them applies the saying, "Those who are wise will shine as the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever" (Daniel 12:3).

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