"Great Shall Be Your Reward" (The Lord's Plan)
A Moment To Ponder
(Reflective Questions and Self Evaluation)
*These questions should be answered a second time after reading this chapter.
- What is your birthright as a child of God?
- What is the highest reward and honor the Father can bestow upon His children?
- How is this reward possible?
- What are you willing to give and sacrifice for His glory?
- What do you risk losing if you choose something else?
- What is the ambient like in the Celestial Kingdom?
- What are the marvelous opportunities for learning and growth in the Celestial Kingdom?
- While on the earth, how would the Lord have you use your stewardship over money and time?
Read the Short Story, "Gold At St. Peter's Gate."
The lesson learned here is that the treasure George worked so hard to accumulate while on earth was of little worth to him in the next life. The focus of his life was on the physical wealth from the which he could not part. George's gold would be eternally worthless. Hopefully, he did not enter heaven spiritually penniless.
There is a sliver of truth in the story as Joseph Smith did have a vision of the Celestial Kingdom. Referenced in the Doctrine & Covenants 137:4, it says: "I saw the beautiful streets of that kingdom, which had the appearance of being paved in gold." Of course, it is not important if the streets in heaven are made of gold, silver, or bronze. It is important that we get there.
In the first chapter of this book two questions were asked:
- In my heart, what is the treasure that I desire most?
- Is that treasure of this world , or of the next?
It is likely, that what we desire on earth we will continue to desire in heaven. What is most important thing to us today, will be the most important thing tomorrow. If our heart's desire and treasure is found in Heavenly Father's Plan of Happiness, we will enter heaven spiritually rich.
Those who have discovered the answers to the four questions below have already received an eternal treasure of truth. "Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where will I go after this life?" The revelations answering these questions lead us to a greater understanding of our divine birthright. There is tremendous peace in understanding the Plan of Life. The joy of having this wisdom cannot be measured with any earthly logic. It is this true light and understanding that give us the confidence to claim our eternal inheritance. Those who have this pure knowledge walk with a clearer vision into the eternities.
There is a sad account in the scriptures of a birthright that was traded for something of little value.
"And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die; and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he swear unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way; thus Esau despised his birthright." (Genesis 25:29-34)
We know that Jacob was a great prophet. Some may read this and question the character of Jacob. I believe there was much more to the story. The point here is in pondering the voluntary loss of a sacred birthright.
While in this mortal life, am I trading my eternal birthright for something of little or no eternal value?
If I were near death (as Esau), would I die with my birthright intact, or forsake it in order to live?
What value do I put on my eternal birthright?
The answers to these questions are based on one's testimony as to who they know they really are. You are literally the spirit child of the All Mighty God who created all things. He is your Father in the truest and purest sense. You have His divinity in your spirit. He is holy. He is all powerful, and all knowing. He is perfect in love, and loves you like no other being. You are His child and no one elses. His capacity to grant you all of His love is laid before you as a birthright.
His greatest desire is that you come home to Him, and rejoice in that birthright and inheritance.
Who will inherit His kingdom?
Read: D&C 76:50-70 "The Glory of the Sun."
Your noble and divine birthright is to become a priest or king, priestess or queen as part of your royal lineage, being a literal son or daughter of the Most High God. He is your Father in Heaven, you are His eternal offspring. It is within each one of us (divinity) to become like Him. There are conditions upon which the promised birthright will be given. They have been outlined in Chapter 4. There are also oaths and covenants that must be entered in order to enjoy this reward.
Read: D&C 84:33-40
Receiving and knowing the Father requires an oath and a covenant. One must honor the Priesthood, follow and live Christ's counsel delivered through living prophets. Heavenly Father administers His eternal plan for His children through His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ "the Great Mediator." The Redeemer of this world then communicates the Father's will through His authorized living prophets, thereafter to be administered by those who bear His holy priesthood by calling. This is the order of heaven in regard to our plan of progression. It will be familiar to us in the next life.
Read: D&C 132:3-6
Stated in this scripture, is a great opportunity for man to bring glory to his Heavenly Father. Man can enter into the new and everlasting covenant, which is only received upon personal worthiness, and only bestowed in the most holy of places, the "House of the Lord." If a son or daughter truly love the Lord their God and Heavenly Father, they will enter into and abide this covenant. (A personal discovery of D&C 132 is well advised.)
In order to dwell where God dwells, there are certain conditions. It is not the purpose of this book to discuss those conditions and covenants of the Holy Priesthood.
Suffice to say, man must know, understand, and commit to these covenants, which if lived will be sealed by an oath and a promise of the Father. These covenants are of the highest order and most sacred. The blessings associated with the priesthood and marriage covenants are fundamental to our purpose on earth and in the eternities. They are not to be taken lightly. They are to be contemplated, pondered, comprehended, and then lived with one's heart, might, mind, and strength. There is no higher expression of love to God, our Father, than to fervently live these covenants.
We have spoken to the great reward that awaits those who are among the most faithful. Consequently, it is appropriate to inquire; "How is such a glorious reward possible?"
Consider these words and thoughts from my personal journal.
"Whether it be in a twinkling of an eye, or through a step by step process, I know not. For the transition from this world to the next is a mystery that has been opened to few. Death will come to all as part of the original plan in the pre-earth life. Every living soul will make this transition. And with that passage will come increased clarity as to who our living God is, and as to what His divine and eternal plan for us entails.
I am certain that those who had an opportunity in their earthly life to accept the Risen Lord, and did not, will be ill-prepared for the transition understood as death. As truth is unfolded, they will have reason to "fear and tremble." They will come to a clear recollection that they neither loved, nor accepted the Lord their God, the Creator of earth and all things. In that day, they must confess their rejection of Him and his doctrine. They must acknowledge their unwillingness to repent, and their open acts of rebellion against righteousness and truth. Surely when they witness their rejection of Him, and their willing disobedience to his commandments, there will be "weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth."
Heavenly Father commands order in all things. Without hesitation, one must admit that specific behaviors are prerequisite to receiving the mysteries of the kingdom and divine truth.
The greatest spiritual truth that must be accepted and engraved upon the hearts of man before eternal glories can be bestowed, is the reality of the "Divine Atonement." To some, the endowment of this truth will come in this mortal life. To others, it will come afterwards in the Spirit World. With this in mind consider the following story.
Read the Short Story, "Picture Yourself In That Day"
To know the significance of the Atonement is to understand God's work and glory. To feel the personal impact of the Atonement is to witness and experience the pure love of Jesus Christ. What is truly amazing is that if we had the opportunity today to ask the Savior if his pain and suffering was worth it, he would say, "Yes!" If we were to ask him,"Would you do it again?" Without hesitation, he would respond, "Yes!" If each of us could feel the power of his sacrifice and make it real in our lives, how much easier it would be to love, follow, and obey him.
The price paid for our eternal birthright and inheritance was the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The cost in pain felt by God and the heavenly hosts was immense. It shook the heavens and earth. Heavenly Father's love for us is manifested in that He sacrificed His Beloved Son for our exaltation.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
The Son's love is equal to that of the Father's. It was revealed when he voluntarily suffered the pain of sins for everyone of us. This was necessary that he could exercise perfect compassion, mercy, and judgment in the final day of accountability. Christ earned the right to be the Author of Our Salvation, the Redeemer of All Mankind.
When we contemplate the personal nature of his suffering for each of us, our emotions should scarcely be contained. To feel his flinch by the whip of a bone spurred leather strap across his back while being scourged, or to consider the drops of blood dripping from every pore down his brow in the Garden of Gethsemane, or to visualize the piercing nails penetrating the nerves within his palms during the crucifixion, we can begin realize the debt that we owe him. If we could only do good the rest of our lives, it would never be payment enough.
The only thing that we can give Christ back of value, is our sins. For with such a sacrifice, we can one day be with him. Our sacrifice to the Father is much the same. We can bring them both glory by repentance, obedience, and entering into sacred covenants. This is how we show our love, gratitude, and appreciation to our Elder Brother and Eternal Father.
Read: D&C 19:16-19
The love of the Father and Son is unending and eternal. They have proven this in so many ways. We prove our love by obedience, and by helping our brothers and sisters back into their presence.
There was a brief description of the Celestial Kingdom given to Joseph Smith.
Read: D&C 137:1-9
A good explanation of those who did not have the opportunity to receive the gospel in its fulness is explained in this scripture. We do know and understand that this is the purpose of vicarious work for the dead. Our perfection is tied to theirs. Therefore, we serve diligently to perform the work for the dead in the House of the Lord. They too must have the same opportunity as we do for celestial glory.
Read: D&C 128:15
In trying to understand the celestial reward we seek, there have been times that I have tried to imagine what it would be like to live in that glorious kingdom. One morning about 3:00 a.m. an inspiration came to me which I recorded for future reference. The thoughts came after struggling with some of the ugliness that invades this mortal life. Through reverently searching and prayer, the Lord helped me appreciate what was to come.
"I was reflecting upon the wonderful reward that can be ours if we are successful during this earthly sojourn. Imagine what a day would be like in the celestial kingdom! What would it be like to walk down celestial paths? Imagine the feelings of security and inner peace as each interaction with other beings would be filled with charity and the pure love of Christ! Imagine a world filled with honesty, integrity, respect, virtue, selflessness, purity, and love unfeigned, all being the standard of daily behavior! Imagine an outpouring of love, gratitude, appreciation for the great blessings of eternal life, and the sweet comforting feelings of the Spirit all becoming a moment by moment experience! Not fleeting, but lasting!"
Because we live on this testing ground known as earth, the opposition we experience gives us hope for a brighter future. This life is not supposed to be perfect. The next life can be. The atmosphere of the Celestial Kingdom will be governed by law. The law of consecration will be the standard. The scriptures teach us a little more about this law.
"And all that believed were together, and had all things common. And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need." (Acts 2:44-45)
"And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul; neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus; and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked; for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold. And laid them down at the apostles' feet; and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need." (Acts 4:31-35 )
The apostles introduced the law of consecration to the early church in the Holy Land after Christ's resurrection. It was also known as the "United Order." This law was also practiced after Christ's visitation to the ancient Americas as cited in the Book of Mormon.
Read: 4 Nephi 1:3
The most successful account of living the law of consecration was found in the City of Enoch near the time of Noah.
Read: Moses 7:18
We learn later that God walked and talked with them because they were so righteous. Eventually the whole city was lifted into heaven.
In the Celestial Kingdom, love will abound, charity will flourish, and selflessness will be the standard. All will continue in the common goal of bringing to pass God's great work and glory.
One can only speculate about the possibilities and blessings of the Celestial Kingdom. It seems most exciting to me. We know that we will have a perfect resurrected body. For those of us in our later years, the thought of having a renewed flawless body is quite appealing.
Read: Alma 40:23
I hope to have a singing voice that could hold a note with perfect pitch. The idea that I could have perfect vocal cords could mean that when I sing in the future, my family will stay in the room.
A resurrection means no more eyeglasses, hearing aids, walking sticks, wheelchairs, etc. To imagine perfect health is wonderful; no disease, no pain, no handicaps. Having a perfect body should mean being able to accomplish things our imperfect bodies were unable to achieve in mortality.
Current scientific belief is that we utilize only about 10-15% of our brain. Who knows the capabilities of the other 85-90%? The resurrection may have the hidden promise of opening those capacities. I would speculate that we will be able to unlock all kinds of powers. Quantum physics may one day be akin to Science 101. Imagine mastering any subject that was confusing on earth, or earning a Ph.D. in all fields of education. Consider the ability to tele-transport, manipulate matter, control the elements, and master time. Total enlightenment without any limitations will be laid before us. Perhaps we will learn to create worlds without end, and organize the intelligences. The list of possibilities is fascinating as well as mind boggling.
As heirs to the highest kingdom, we have been told that we will be given a gift.
Read: D&C 130:10-11
"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone . . ." (Revelations 2:17)
One can only speculate what is meant. We do know that the Urim and Thummim gave the power of translation to Joseph Smith. The seer stones also allowed Joseph to see into the future. With these stones, he was able to protect the gold plates from theft on many occasions.
This gift mentioned in The Book of Revelations suggests some will be given the ability to see things unseen by mortal man. Certainly, only those called of God will be granted the power to use them, and only for His purposes. Nonetheless, there will be marvelous gifts bestowed to those who inherit celestial glory.
I have relished in the idea that one day, if worthy, we may have the opportunity to be tutored by the great prophets of this earth. Perhaps one day we will be given the gift of revelation and see Adam in his time, or the Savior's life, Noah and the ark, the City of Enoch, Peter, James, and John, Moroni, Joseph Smith. If all things are revealed, what a joy it will be to have all those unanswered questions brought to light. The potential for knowledge and learning promises to be an adventure that will never end.
I am sure my vain imaginations are small compared to what God has in store for all of us. Yet the few that I can contemplate, leave me in awe! There are many wonderful things to anticipate!
The greatest treasure to come will be the joy that we experience as we sit at the feet of our Heavenly Father and feel His perfect love. I hope we all look forward to that glorious day when He will teach us once again.
It is in the Celestial Kingdom that we can be sealed as a family for time and all eternity to those whom we loved the most on earth. What a priceless treasure that will be, and worth any effort.
As suggested in this chapter, money plays no part in the celestial kingdom.
Does the Lord have a plan for our wealth? What is it?
It is to consecrate all that we have to the building of His kingdom. Money is to be used to help those in need. We are taught that the money we have does not belong to us, but to God. A poor widow understood this part of His plan.
"And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury; For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living." (Mark 12:42-44)
This sweet sister understood a scripture unknown to her. The same concept was taught by the prophet Mosiah in the Book of Mormon.
Read: Mosiah 4:21-22
God makes it very clear, that what we have is really His. Those who claim something belongs to them are in error. All things are God's. He grants us a stewardship to use His resources for the betterment of ourselves and of man. If man would approach life with God's perspective, there would be no poor. There would be no place for selfishness, pride, or greed. Men would be of one heart, doing only good one to another, rejoicing in the success of ourselves and others.
"But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth." (Deuteronomy 15:8)
God would have you and I consecrate our time, and talent, all that He has given us to the betterment of our brothers and sisters. Let us open our hand wide where a need is presented.
Let us ask ourselves:
"Am I a good steward of what God has given me?
Do I help my fellowman when the Spirit prompts?
Am I on the Lord's errand?"
What is the Lord's Plan for money?
Answer: "To do good, and bless the lives of others."
For great shall be the reward of those who are one with God in mind and purpose. Of such is the Kingdom of God; these are they that are of the Church of the Firstborn; these are they that shall inherit an eternal crown and exaltation.