D&C 76

I recently read the blog of a group that believes in the Book of Mormon, but disbelieves in almost all of the Doctrine and Covenants. When analyzing the Book of Mormon, this group sets aside the precepts of men and focuses on what is actually written and takes it at face value. Consequently, the blog demonstrates how teachings of the Book of Mormon differ significantly from the teachings of the modern LDS church. Yet when it comes to the Doctrine and Covenants, they don’t apply the same standard. I noticed a tendency to not always read what is written but sometimes repeat the modern LDS church’s interpretations of the Doctrine and Covenants. They correctly condemn those false teachings but then, incorrectly, condemn the Doctrine and Covenants without actually scrutinizing what is written. (Their disbelief in the Doctrine and Covenants has more basis than just this one element I will discuss, and my goal isn’t to try to prove them wrong, so we’ll leave the rest alone for now. This was just what sparked the idea for this topic).

One particular criticism was leveled against D&C 76. This group discredited the correlated story that at judgement day everyone will be assigned to one of three kingdoms of glory: celestial, terrestrial, or telestial and that once placed in that kingdom, you will remain there forever. Had this group read D&C 76 with the same intellectual rigor they use with the Book of Mormon, they would have realized that D&C 76 doesn’t teach these things. But are we much better? Do we likewise ascribe to Section 76 false doctrines that it never teaches? Let’s take a look at what is really written.


Joseph and Sydney were working on the “translation” of the Bible, or JST. They came to John 5:29 and were given a different translation:

D&C 76:17 John 5:29
17 and shall come forth;

they who have done good, in the resurrection of the just;

and they who have done evil, in the resurrection of the unjust.

And shall come forth;

they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life;

and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

Verse 19 tells us this caused them to marvel. There doesn’t appear to be much difference between the two versions, as you can see above. But when you analyze it, there is more than meets the eye. In the KJV, there are two resurrections and they differ in the nature of the resurrection itself. One is a resurrection of life, the other a resurrection of damnation. Yet in the JST, the emphasis is on who receives the resurrection: the just and the unjust. From this snippet, one could conclude either that there are two completely different resurrections, or that there is one resurrection that happens at different times for different people, or there are two different resurrections that happen at different times. But there isn’t enough information so far to make a determination.

The JST changes also create links to several other Bible verses which reinforce the changes:

Acts 24:15 And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.

Luke 14:14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.

The JST version also provides a link to the Book of Mormon.

Alma 12:8 …What does this mean which Amulek hath spoken concerning the resurrection of the dead, that all shall rise from the dead, both the just and the unjust, and are brought to stand before God to be judged according to their works?

Perhaps that’s why versus 18-19 indicate that Joseph and Sydney marveled and pondered this change…it opened a Pandora’s box of possibilities but in and of itself didn’t give any definite answers. Then they received the vision to explain it.

Vision of the Father and the Son

While we won’t dive into this here, I find it interesting that the first part of the vision is a theophany where Joseph and Sydney see the Son on the right hand of the Father and received of his fullness and see the angels worshiping God. This is the same pattern that Isaiah (Isaiah 6), Stephen (Acts 7:55-56), Lehi (1 Nephi 1:8), Alma (Alma 36:22), and others experienced. This vision is consistent with other visions in scripture.

Sons of Perdition

It’s important to note that the sons of perdition do not comprise the resurrection of the unjust. As the scriptures teach, they don’t receive a resurrection.

38 Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath.
39 For all the rest shall be brought forth by the resurrection of the dead,

49 And we heard the voice, saying: Write the vision, for lo, this is the end of the vision of the sufferings of the ungodly.

This is not the resurrection of the unjust, it is the sufferings of the ungodly!

The Resurrection of the Just

Immediately after talking about those who will receive no resurrection, the vision explains those who will receive the resurrection of the just.

50 And again we bear record—for we saw and heard, and this is the testimony of the gospel of Christ concerning them who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just

It then goes on in verses 51-69 to list the characteristics of the people who will come forth in the resurrection of the just: believed in Christ, baptized, received the Holy Spirit, membership in the church of the Firstborn, just men made perfect through Jesus, etc. Then in verse 70 we are told:

70 These are they whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God, the highest of all, whose glory the sun of the firmament is written of as being typical.

Notice nowhere in this section are the words “celestial kingdom” (other than in Bruce McConkie’s section header!). Verses 50-70  talk about bodies being celestial and their corresponding glory, and the things the people have done to qualify for this celestial body and glory. But these verses do not directly mention the celestial kingdom. This is a description of a people, not a place.

The Resurrection of the Unjust

Interestingly, D&C 76 declares that there is a resurrection of the unjust, but it doesn’t clearly define how it relates to celestial, terrestrial, and telestial. We have to use some logic to deduce that the resurrection of the just is only for the celestial people, and the resurrection of the unjust is for the terrestrial and telestial people.

D&C 76:65, in the middle of describing celestial people, states:

65 These are they who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just.

Verse 71 begins the brief description of the terrestrial category.

71 And again, we saw the terrestrial world, and behold and lo, these are they who are of the terrestrial, whose glory differs from that of the church of the Firstborn who have received the fulness of the Father, even as that of the moon differs from the sun in the firmament.

We know from verses 54 and 67 that membership in the church of the Firstborn is a requirement for the resurrection of the just, and verse 71 tells us that these terrestrial people are not part of the church of the Firstborn. Verse 69 states that celestial candidates are just.

69 These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood.

What does “just” mean?

The scriptures tell us that God is just. (Alma 29:4, Alma 42:15, Mormon 9:4). His judgements and dealings are just. (Mosiah 16:1, Alma 50:19, Omni 1:22). Webster’s 1828 dictionary tells us that just means:

  1. Regular; orderly; due; suitable.
  2. Exactly proportioned; proper.
  3. Full; complete to the common standard.
  4. Full; true; a sense allied to the preceding, or the same.
  5. In a moral sense, upright; honest; having principles of rectitude; or conforming exactly to the laws, and to principles of rectitude in social conduct; equitable in the distribution of justice; as a just judge.
  6. In an evangelical sense, righteous; religious; influenced by a regard to the laws of God; or living in exact conformity to the divine will.

It’s pretty easy to see that God can meet all of Webster’s criteria. But what about mortal men? The scriptures testify that there are just men and describes some of their characteristics:

Alma 3
6 And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men.

Alma 13
26 And it shall be made known unto just and holy men, by the mouth of angels, at the time of his coming, that the words of our fathers may be fulfilled, according to that which they have spoken concerning him, which was according to the spirit of prophecy which was in them.

Alma 63:2 – talks about Shiblon being a just man, like his brother Helaman.
2 And he was a just man, and he did walk uprightly before God; and he did observe to do good continually, to keep the commandments of the Lord his God; and also did his brother.

Enos 1:1 – talks about Jacob being a just man
1 Behold, it came to pass that I, Enos, knowing my father that he was a just man—for he taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord—and blessed be the name of my God for it—

Mosiah 29:13 tells us that king Benjamin was a just man.
13 Therefore, if it were possible that you could have just men to be your kings, who would establish the laws of God, and judge this people according to his commandments, yea, if ye could have men for your kings who would do even as my father Benjamin did for this people—I say unto you, if this could always be the case then it would be expedient that ye should always have kings to rule over you.

Mosiah 19 – Limhi, the son of king Noah, was himself a just man.
17 And now Limhi was desirous that his father should not be destroyed; nevertheless, Limhi was not ignorant of the iniquities of his father, he himself being a just man.

3 Nephi 8 – Nephi at the time of Christ was a just man
1 And now it came to pass that according to our record, and we know our record to be true, for behold, it was a just man who did keep the recordfor he truly did many miracles in the name of Jesus; and there was not any man who could do a miracle in the name of Jesus save he were cleansed every whit from his iniquity

Mosiah 2:4 – Alma appointed just men to teach the people
4 And also that they might give thanks to the Lord their God, who had brought them out of the land of Jerusalem, and who had delivered them out of the hands of their enemies, and had appointed just men to be their teachers, and also a just man to be their king, who had established peace in the land of Zarahemla, and who had taught them to keep the commandments of God, that they might rejoice and be filled with love towards God and all men.

Alma 31 indicates that the word of God  teaches us how to be just people.
5 And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God.

In order to be a just person, you need to obey the commandments (and then teach others to do likewise). The terrestrial category consist of those “without law”, those who “received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh” because they were “blinded by the craftiness of men”, and those “who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus.” None of these people qualify to be just because they did not obey the commandments, therefore the terrestrial appears to be the beginning of the resurrection of the unjust.


Take a look at verse 71 again. Notice that they saw “the terrestrial world”. Not the terrestrial kingdom. The same thing happens when describing the telestial category. Verse 109 says they saw the inhabitants of “the telestial world”. Neither terrestrial kingdom, nor telestial kingdom, nor celestial kingdom appear in Section 76. The only kingdom referenced in D&C 76 is the kingdom of God (verses 7, 28, 79, 107, and 114).

Let’s summarize. D&C 76 talks about a celestial category of people, but not a celestial kingdom. And it talks about a terrestrial and telestial world and the people that live in them. But no discussion of kingdoms, no discussion of these being assigned at judgement day, and no discussion about this being the state of the soul forever. Quite a bit different from what we’ve been taught that it says!

In the next posts, we will focus on each category and analyze what the scriptures really say about them. But I’ll warn you now, if you think the scriptures support the diagram below, you’re in for a rude awakening!


Turning the hearts of the children – Part 3

In the first two parts of this series we have identified both the fathers and the promises. Now it’s time to dive into the identity of the children. Let’s start with Malachi/D&C 2 again.

Malachi 4:5-6
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
D&C 2:1-2
1 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.2 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.

In Malachi, Elijah’s mission is to turn both the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers, yet in D&C 2 his mission is only to work with the children. “Inconsistencies” like this should be ringing bells in our head—there is a mystery of God here. If we are willing to let go of the traditions we have been taught and truly rely on the scriptures, we will learn something we hadn’t considered before. I’ll save the details of this for another post on the mission and identity of Elijah, but for the sake of this post let’s just assume that Elijah is sent twice to prepare the way: once in the meridian of time when he turns the heart of the fathers to children, and a second time in the latter days when he turns the heart of the children to their fathers. This post will focus on the latter-day return of Elijah.

We identified the fathers as the patriarchs who received the promise of a Savior and the blessing of preaching his Gospel to the world. Just as we used the scriptures to see who the fathers were and what their promise was, we can use the scriptures to identify who the children are.

D&C 98:16-17
A  ..seek diligently to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers,
B            and the hearts of the fathers to the children;
A  And again, the hearts of the Jews unto the prophets,
B            and the prophets unto the Jews…

One powerful tool for unlocking the scriptures is understanding the poetic structures and devices the scriptures use. In this case, synonymous parallelism is used to link words together by repeating the main idea while changing a few words. From this we learn that prophets and fathers are synonyms (which we already knew from earlier posts) and that the Jews and children are also synonyms.

Now we could stop right there and tell ourselves that this is all about those people in modern day Jerusalem that have beards, wear black clothes, and go to synagogue on Saturday. But that would be relying on our own wisdom rather than on the Lord’s. Let’s see if the scriptures’ definition of the Jews is the same as our definition.

2 Nephi 33
8 I have charity for the Jew—I say Jew, because I mean them from whence I came.

Nephi says he came from the Jews…but Lehi wasn’t of the tribe of Judah, he was from Manasseh. (Alma 10:3). (You should hear that bell ringing). When Nephi says Jews, he does not mean the tribe of Judah. He means the whole House of Israel.

1 Nephi 15:12, 17
12 Behold, I say unto you, that the house of Israel was compared unto an olive tree, by the Spirit of the Lord which was in our father; and behold are we not broken off from the house of Israel, and are we not a branch of the house of Israel?
17 And this is what our father meaneth; and he meaneth that it will not come to pass until after they are scattered by the Gentiles; and he meaneth that it shall come by way of the Gentiles, that the Lord may show his power unto the Gentiles, for the very cause that he shall be rejected of the Jews, or of the house of Israel.

Mormon also uses Jews as a synonym for the House of Israel:

Mormon 5:14
And behold, they shall go unto the unbelieving of the Jews; and for this intent shall they go—that they may be persuaded that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God; that the Father may bring about, through his most Beloved, his great and eternal purpose, in restoring the Jews, or all the house of Israel, to the land of their inheritance, which the Lord their God hath given them, unto the fulfilling of his covenant;

Let’s look again at 2 Nephi 33 and see who Nephi is talking to.

2 Nephi 33
I have charity for my people, and great faith in Christ that I shall meet many souls spotless at his judgment-seat.
8 I have charity for the Jew—I say Jew, because I mean them from whence I came.
9 I also have charity for the Gentiles. But behold, for none of these can I hope except they shall be reconciled unto Christ, and enter into the narrow gate, and walk in the strait path which leads to life, and continue in the path until the end of the day of probation.

Nephi identified three distinct groups of people: his people, the Jews, and the Gentiles. Watch how he continues to distinguish these three groups as his finishes his writing.

2 Nephi 33:10, 13
And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.

13 And now, my beloved brethren, all those who are of the house of Israel, and all ye ends of the earth, I speak unto you as the voice of one crying from the dust: Farewell until that great day shall come.

In the Book of Mormon, the Jews is a synonym for all those who are of the house of Israel. And because the descendants of Lehi are a branch of the house of Israel, he’s really only identifying two true groups of people: The House of Israel and the Gentiles. Those two groups encapsulate the whole of humanity. And what is Nephi’s message to all these people? Believe in Christ. That’s the promise. That’s the ministry.

The resurrected Christ himself tells the descendants of Lehi who they are and links them to the promises made with the fathers.

3 Nephi 20:25
25 And behold, ye are the children of the prophets; and ye are of the house of Israel; and ye are of the covenant which the Father made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.

So if you are of the tribe of Ephraim, you’re of the house of Israel, and also someone who would be called a Jew by the Book of Mormon prophets, and also a child of the prophets. Chances are, if you are reading this blog, you’re a Jew according to Nephi and Mormon.

If that’s true, then that means we are the children who need to have the promises planted in our hearts, and our hearts turned to the fathers, the prophets. Nephi knew this. He knew this wasn’t about biological (and adoptive) parents being sealed together for eternity. It’s about getting people who don’t have the promises of eternal life pointed in the right direction so they can lay hold on the same promises the patriarchs received.

1 Nephi 15
13 And now, the thing which our father meaneth concerning the grafting in of the natural branches through the fulness of the Gentiles, is, that in the latter days, when our seed shall have dwindled in unbelief, yea, for the space of many years, and many generations after the Messiah shall be manifested in body unto the children of men, then shall the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed—
14 And at that day shall the remnant of our seed know that they are of the house of Israel, and that they are the covenant people of the Lord; and then shall they know and come to the knowledge of their forefathers, and also to the knowledge of the gospel of their Redeemer, which was ministered unto their fathers by him; wherefore, they shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer and the very points of his doctrine, that they may know how to come unto him and be saved.

Now we can look at this and say, “well, it’s the Lamanites that don’t know how to come unto Christ and be saved. Not us! We’ve got the fullness of the gospel!” But do we? If we are identified as the Jews, do we behave any differently than the ancient Jews behaved?

Jacob 4:14
But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble.

The fact that the LDS Church teaches that the promises that need to be planted in the hearts of this generation are endless genealogy work, dubious temple ordinances, and the non-scriptural notion that we can’t be saved unless we have been sealed to our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents is pretty indicative that we despise the words of plainness. Where are the scriptures to back up these precepts? If these were necessary, why didn’t Christ preach these to the Nephites after his resurrection? He made it a point to ensure they had the prophecy of Malachi, and reminded them they had forgotten to document the fulfillment of a prophecy of Samuel the Lamanite, but he didn’t bother to teach them about eternal families and genealogy work? And they still managed to live in Zion for 200 years without those essential ordinances?

We are blind to the fact that the scriptures teach us that Christ is the promise that needs to be planted. Christ is what saves us, not a temple ceremony. The very points of his doctrine need to be taught to the children of men, not the tools of genealogy. Even when we try to live up to the blessing of preaching the gospel to the world, we dilute it so much with the precepts of men that it is of limited effect. We are looking beyond the mark and can’t understand who the fathers are, who the children are, and what the promises are.

2 Nephi 32:7
7 And now I, Nephi, cannot say more; the Spirit stoppeth mine utterance, and I am left to mourn because of the unbelief, and the wickedness, and the ignorance, and the stiffneckedness of men; for they will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be.


Turning the hearts of the children – Part 2

In part 1, we used the scriptures to uncover the identity of the fathers. In Part 2, we will dive deeper in into the promise that was made to the fathers.

Malachi 4:5-6
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
D&C 2:1-2
1 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.2 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.

D&C 2 gives us the words that the angel spoke to Joseph in 1823. In Joseph Smith History 1:36,38-39, Joseph calls out that the angel quoted these verses differently. That should be our first clue that there’s something important here.

That’s an odd phrase: “he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers”. Why plant in the hearts? Is that phrase used anywhere else in scripture? Yes!

Alma 34:2-4
2 My brethren, I think that it is impossible that ye should be ignorant of the things which have been spoken concerning the coming of Christ, who is taught by us to be the Son of God; yea, I know that these things were taught unto you bountifully before your dissension from among us.
3 And as ye have desired of my beloved brother that he should make known unto you what ye should do, because of your afflictions; and he hath spoken somewhat unto you to prepare your minds; yea, and he hath exhorted you unto faith and to patience—
4 Yea, even that ye would have so much faith as even to plant the word in your hearts, that ye may try the experiment of its goodness.

Think of the context here. Alma and Amulek are preaching the Gospel to the Zoramites. They’ve been calling them to repentance and trying to get them to come unto Christ. They are engaged in the same ministry that Abraham, Noah, Enoch, Adam, and all the other fathers were engaged in. Amulek tells the Zoramites that Alma’s goal in preaching to them was that they would have enough faith to plant the word in their hearts.

What’s the word that needs to be planted?

5 And we have beheld that the great question which is in your minds is whether the word be in the Son of God, or whether there shall be no Christ.

Christ is the word. Does he exist? Will he come to redeem his people? The anti-Christs in the Book of Mormon taught that there would be no Christ. Prophets like Nephi and Alma taught that Christ would come. Whom to believe? How can one know for sure?

Alma had just taught the people about Christ. Alma 32 is all about Christ.

Alma 32
1 Now after Alma had spoken these words, they sent forth unto him desiring to know whether they should believe in one God, that they might obtain this fruit of which he had spoken, or how they should plant the seed, or the word of which he had spoken, which he said must be planted in their hearts; or in what manner they should begin to exercise their faith.

14 Now behold, my brethren, I would ask if ye have read the scriptures? If ye have, how can ye disbelieve on the Son of God?
15 For it is not written that Zenos alone spake of these things, but Zenock also spake of these things—
16 For behold, he said: Thou art angry, O Lord, with this people, because they will not understand thy mercies which thou hast bestowed upon them because of thy Son.
17 And now, my brethren, ye see that a second prophet of old has testified of the Son of God, and because the people would not understand his words they stoned him to death.
18 But behold, this is not all; these are not the only ones who have spoken concerning the Son of God.
19 Behold, he was spoken of by Moses; yea, and behold a type was raised up in the wilderness, that whosoever would look upon it might live. And many did look and live.

22 If so, wo shall come upon you; but if not so, then cast about your eyes and begin to believe in the Son of God, that he will come to redeem his people, and that he shall suffer and die to atone for their sins; and that he shall rise again from the dead, which shall bring to pass the resurrection, that all men shall stand before him, to be judged at the last and judgment day, according to their works.
23 And now, my brethren, I desire that ye shall plant this word in your hearts, and as it beginneth to swell even so nourish it by your faith. And behold, it will become a tree, springing up in you unto everlasting life. And then may God grant unto you that your burdens may be light, through the joy of his Son. And even all this can ye do if ye will. Amen.

This is the same message that Adam taught.

Moses 6:52, 57, 62
52 And he also said unto him: If thou wilt turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, and believe, and repent of all thy transgressions, and be baptized, even in water, in the name of mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth, which is Jesus Christ, the only name which shall be given under heaven, whereby salvation shall come unto the children of men, ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, asking all things in his name, and whatsoever ye shall ask, it shall be given you.
57 Wherefore teach it unto your children, that all men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence; for, in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man, even Jesus Christ, a righteous Judge, who shall come in the meridian of time.
62 And now, behold, I say unto you: This is the plan of salvation unto all men, through the blood of mine Only Begotten, who shall come in the meridian of time.

And Noah.

Moses 8:23-24
And it came to pass that Noah continued his preaching unto the people, saying: Hearken, and give heed unto my words;
24 Believe and repent of your sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, even as our fathers, and ye shall receive the Holy Ghost, that ye may have all things made manifest; and if ye do not this, the floods will come in upon you; nevertheless they hearkened not.

And Enoch.

Moses 7:45-47
And it came to pass that Enoch looked; and from Noah, he beheld all the families of the earth; and he cried unto the Lord, saying: When shall the day of the Lord come? When shall the blood of the Righteous be shed, that all they that mourn may be sanctified and have eternal life?
46 And the Lord said: It shall be in the meridian of time, in the days of wickedness and vengeance.
47 And behold, Enoch saw the day of the coming of the Son of Man, even in the flesh; and his soul rejoiced, saying: The Righteous is lifted up, and the Lamb is slain from the foundation of the world; and through faith I am in the bosom of the Father, and behold, Zion is with me.

John in the New Testament identifies the same promise, and warns of anti-Christs who will attempt to direct people away from the promise.

1 John 2:22-25
22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.
23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.
Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.
25 And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.

The promise given to the fathers is the promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Galatians 3:13
13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law…
14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

The blessing of Abraham, to preach to Gospel of Jesus Christ, came upon the Gentiles after Christ’s resurrection, because the Jews rejected their birthright. The promises of the fathers, the promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ and the privilege of declaring that to the world, is the promise that Elijah was foreordained to plant in the hearts of the children in the latter days.

Moroni’s writings support this interpretation. When talking about angels, he wrote:

Moroni 7:31-32
31 And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfil and to do the work of the covenants of the Father, which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men, by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him.
32 And by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof; and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father, the covenants which he hath made unto the children of men.

Angels declare the words of Christ unto prophets and other chosen vessels, who then bear testimony to the rest of the children of men. Notice how the covenants of the Lord are fulfilled. It isn’t by procreation or sealing children to parents. It’s by calling men to repentance, helping people have faith in Christ and receive the Holy Ghost. It’s after that manner the covenants are brought to pass.

Paul in the New Testament taught that Christ and his Gospel was the promise made to the fathers.

Acts 26:6-8, 22-23
6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:
7 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.
8 Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?

22 Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:
23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.

Nephi taught the the promises and covenants made with the fathers were all about Christ and salvation through him.

2 Nephi 11:4-7
Behold, my soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ; for, for this end hath the law of Moses been given; and all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him.
5 And also my soul delighteth in the covenants of the Lord which he hath made to our fathers; yea, my soul delighteth in his grace, and in his justice, and power, and mercy in the great and eternal plan of deliverance from death.
6 And my soul delighteth in proving unto my people that save Christ should come all men must perish.
7 For if there be no Christ there be no God; and if there be no God we are not, for there could have been no creation. But there is a God, and he is Christ, and he cometh in the fulness of his own time.

Lastly, Christ himself supported this.

3 Nephi 11:10-11
10 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.
11 And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and 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.
14 Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.

Christ is the promise. Faith in him is what needs to be planted in every person’s heart. His undefiled Gospel is what needs to be preached to the world. Elijah was prophesied to come to the world in a time when the undefiled Gospel was not to be found, and through his instrumentality the true Gospel would be planted in the hearts of the children. When it is planted in their hearts, the children will turn to the promises made to the fathers and (correctly) believe in Christ.

In Part 3, we will identify who the children are.

Turning the hearts of the children – Part 1

Malachi 4:5-6
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

In the LDS Church, we’re told that this turning of the hearts is about genealogy and sealing children to parents in the temple. We’re taught that it’s a fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham that his posterity will be like sands in number. This leads to teachings on eternal marriage, eternal procreation, and other topics. The problem is, the scriptures, including Abraham’s writings, don’t talk about those things. The promises Abraham received were promises that were also given to the fathers before him, and they had less to do with procreation than we have been led to believe.

Abraham 1:2-3
2 And, finding there was greater happiness and 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.
3 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, or the first man, who is Adam, or first father, through the fathers unto me.
4 I sought for mine appointment unto the Priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the fathers concerning the seed.

Abraham was seeking for the blessings and rights belonging to the fathers (Adam through Shem), and he identified those rights and blessings as an appointment unto the Priesthood. Pay particular attention to verse 4: the appointment of God unto the fathers concerning the seed. These promises concerning the seed were made not to just Abraham, but to the fathers (patriarchs). And it isn’t concerning their seed, it’s concerning the seed.

When God made the promise to Abraham about his seed, He specifically referenced those who preach the Gospel and those who are converted as a result:

Abraham 2:9-11
9 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee above measure, and make thy name great among all nations, and thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations;
10 And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father;
11 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.

The literal seed of Abraham have the privilege of bearing the Priesthood (ministry) unto all nations (preach the Gospel). It isn’t through presiding or officiating that the earth is blessed, it’s through preaching . While Abraham taught the same Gospel as the fathers before him, God’s promise to Abraham placed Abraham’s name on those who accept the Gospel. It is through preaching the Gospel that all the families of the earth will become the figurative seed of Abraham and receive all that he received!

The New Testament supports this:

Galatians 3:7-9
7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

We see glimpses of Abraham’s proselytizing ministry in the scriptures.

Abraham 3:15
15 And I took Sarai, whom I took to wife when I was in Ur, in Chaldea, and Lot, my brother’s son, and all our substance that we had gathered, and the souls that we had won in Haran, and came forth in the way to the land of Canaan, and dwelt in tents as we came on our way;

Abraham 1:19
19 As it was with Noah so shall it be with thee; but through thy ministry my name shall be known in the earth forever, for I am thy God.

Notice how that verse begins talking about how Abraham’s ministry will be like Noah’s. What was Noah’s ministry?

Moses 8:19
19 And the Lord ordained Noah after his own order, and commanded him that he should go forth and declare his Gospel unto the children of men, even as it was given unto Enoch.
20 And it came to pass that Noah called upon the children of men that they should repent

This says Noah followed the pattern set by Enoch. What was Enoch’s ministry?

Moses 6:26-36
“Enoch, my son, prophesy unto this people and say unto them—Repent
and a hell I have prepared for them if they repent not;
And this is a decree which I have sent forth in the beginning of the world…and by the mouths of my servants, thy fathers, have I decreed it, even as it shall be sent forth in the world, unto the ends thereof…
Go forth and do as I have commanded thee…open thy mouth and it shall be filled, and I will get thee utterance…
Say unto this people: Choose ye this day, to serve the Lord God who made you.”

And of Enoch’s fathers, we read:

Moses 6:10-23
[Adam, Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, and Jared]
22 And this is the genealogy of the sons of Adam, who was the son of God, with whom God, himself, conversed.
23 And they were preachers of righteousness, and spake and prophesied, and called upon all men, everywhere, to repent; and faith was taught unto the children of men.

This Priesthood or ministry of preaching of the Gospel goes all the way back to Adam.

Moses 6:57-59
57 …believe on his Only Begotten Son, even him whom he declared should come in the meridian of time, who was prepared from before the foundation of the world.
58 And thus the Gospel began to be preached, from the beginning, being declared by holy angels sent forth from the presence of God, and by his own voice, and by the gift of the Holy Ghost.
59 And thus all things were confirmed unto Adam, by an holy ordinance, and the Gospel preached, and a decree sent forth, that it should be in the world, until the end thereof; and thus it was. Amen.

What did Adam do?

Moses 5:12
12 And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters.

Moses 6:1
1 And Adam hearkened unto the voice of God, and called upon his sons to repent.

The blessings of the fathers, the rights of the Priesthood, are to preach the Gospel and call on men everywhere to repent. It started with Adam and continued through the patriarchs and to Abraham. Abraham didn’t receive a new ministry – the ministry he received was the same ministry that the fathers before him had received. What was unique about Abraham was the promise that followers of Jehovah would be called after Abraham’s name. Abraham’s genetic offspring was a means to an end, the end being the preaching of the Gospel to the world.

The resurrected Christ himself confirmed this when he explained that the covenant with Abraham about his seed blessing all the earth wasn’t about genealogy but about the Holy Ghost.

3 Nephi 20:25, 27
And behold, ye are the children of the prophets; and ye are of the house of Israel; and ye are of the covenant which the Father made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.

And after that ye were blessed then fulfilleth the Father the covenant which he made with Abraham, saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessedunto the pouring out of the Holy Ghost through me upon the Gentiles, which blessing upon the Gentiles shall make them mighty above all, unto the scattering of my people, O house of Israel.

 The Abrahamic Covenant is about preaching the Gospel in its purity, not procreation. The fathers that Malachi references aren’t all men in the last few thousand years who sired physical offspring, but the patriarchs of the pre-flood era who received promises from God that they would be saved through Christ and authorized and empowered to preach the Gospel to the world.

In Part 2, we’ll look deeper into the promises made to fathers and the Gospel they preached.