I’ve been working on a couple different posts for this blog for the past week. The third article in the “Most Important Chapters in Scripture?” series needs special attention due to the power and sacredness of the subject. Because of the time required to give that attention, I haven’t been able to get it completed. The following is a talk I gave several years ago in as a student in a student ward. Its one of the few talks that I ever wrote completely before giving. It is also a great preparation for the third article in the “Most Important Chapters in Scripture” series.
I have chosen to speak on Our Divine Potential. I pray that the Spirit will permit me to deliver this message in accordance with God’s will, and that everyone here will be able to feel of that Spirit and receive the message by the Spirit who is the ultimate teacher. I also hope you understand that this message is taken from the scriptures and the words of our church leaders. It is not my message, and I need to hear and understand it as much as any of you.
Kings and Queens
I hope everyone here has seen the new movie The Chronicles of Narnia. If you haven’t, I highly recommend it, and here’s why: This movie (and the book it is based on) is a great Christian allegory of our divine potential. Throughout the movie various characters keep telling the three children–who are the protagonists of the story–that they were meant to be Kings and Queens, leaders in the fight against evil. Every time someone tells them this, they say essentially “no, you must be mistaken, there is nothing special about us, we’re from some place in England, we’re not important or great.” They can’t see their potential. They don’t know that they really were meant to become Kings and Queens.
I love this theme of Kings and Queens because it is the same one Heavenly Father uses to teach and remind us of our potential. Psalms 82:6 reads: “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.” And D&C 76:56, 58, 62 says: “They are they who are priests and kings, who have received of his fullness and his glory…. Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God…. These shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever.”
Too often I think we take the same attitude as the children in the Chronicles of Narnia. We say “who am I to shine, to lead out, to be righteous and deserve blessings?” “What makes me so special that I should discover the mysteries of God, or perform great acts of service, or become pure and spotless before God?” We doubt ourselves, we doubt our God. This is what Satan wants us to do. If he can get us to forget who we are, and what our purpose is, then we will never achieve it. We can’t work toward what we don’t know. The Prophet John Taylor said it this way:
“Have you forgotten who you are, and what your object is? Have you forgotten that you profess to be Saints of the Most High God, clothed upon with the holy priesthood? Have you forgotten that you are aiming to become kings and priests to the Lord, and queens and priestesses to him? Have you forgotten that you are associated with the Saints of God in Zion, where the oracles of truth are revealed, and the truths of God are made manifest, and clearly developed; where you and your posterity after you can learn the ways of life and salvation; where you are placed in a position that you can obtain blessings from the great Elohim, that will rest upon you and your posterity worlds without end?” (The Gospel Kingdom, p.229-230)
Where Did We Come From, Why Are We Here?
To begin to understand or remember who we are, we need to realize where we came from and why we are here. Abraham saw the “noble and great ones” that stood in the Grand Council in Heaven before the world was. We were all there, we must have been, or we would not be here. This means we have every right to shine, to lead out, to be righteous, to discover the mysteries of God, and become spotless before him. We not only have the right, but we also have the responsibility. Like Jesus Christ who came for a specific purpose, “for this end were [we] born, for this purpose came [we] into this world.” We are the “noble and great ones.” And with the help of the Savior and the grace that comes through His Atonement, we can receive “all that the Father hath.” Sister Sheri Dew said:
“You were born to lead as mothers and fathers, because nowhere is righteous leadership more crucial than in the family. You were born to lead as priesthood and auxiliary leaders; as heads of communities, companies, and even nations. You were born to lead as men and women willing ‘to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places,’ because that’s what a true leader does (Mosiah 18:9; emphasis added).” (You Were Born to Lead, You Were Born for Glory, BYU Devotional, 9 Dec. 2003)
Not only were we born to lead, receive eternal glory, and become gods, but we were chosen to do so at this time and place. Sister Dew was speaking to college students when she said:
“The simple fact is that our Father did not recommend Eve or Moses or Nephi or countless other magnificent exemplars for this dispensation–He recommended you and me. Do you think God would have left the last days to chance by sending men and women He couldn’t count on? A common theme of patriarchal blessings given to men and women your age is that you were sent now because our Father’s most trustworthy children would be needed in the final, decisive battle for righteousness. That is who you are, and it is who you have always been.” (You Were Born to Lead, You Were Born for Glory, BYU Devotional, 9 Dec. 2003)
But it’s important that we realize that we aren’t guaranteed these things. We don’t just automatically receive “all that the Father hath,” and become “joint heirs with Christ,” because we were chosen for this purpose. There is still a lot we have to do. President Spencer W. Kimball said that “The permanent kingdom is yours, not for the asking but for the earning.” He continued:
“What will you do with it? You are entitled to a kingdom or a queendom. You are princesses and princes. Do you prize your inheritance? Will you abdicate and relinquish your heavenly rights to all that is your due? Do you but realize what the Lord has in store for you? Do you know what you could discard in a moment of carelessness and heedlessness?” (Kings & Priests, BYU Devotional, 15 Feb. 1966)
Selling the Birthright for a “Mess of Pottage”
There are many things of this world that we can do, which will cause us to abdicate or relinquish our thrones. Sometimes they are things that don’t seem like that big of a deal. But always, we either know that what we are doing is not right, or the Spirit will warn us. Back around six years ago when Napster and music sharing was the “new big thing,” I was right in the thick of it, downloading with the best of them. Over years I acquired a huge collection of music. Some of it was from CD’s I had purchased, but most of it was illegally downloaded through various file-sharing programs where the artists and publishers were not compensated. The last time I checked, I had accrued over fifteen days worth of music. In other words, you could start my music playing, and in order to play every single track on my computer, it wouldn’t stop until fifteen days later.
One day I was sitting in my religion class and my favorite teacher was teaching about something that I no longer remember, but it was totally unrelated to illegal music or even integrity. The important thing is that the Spirit was there in that classroom, and it essentially said to me “Tevya, you know that music is not legal nor is it honest to acquire in that way. You’ve known for a while that you shouldn’t have it. Now is the time to get rid of it and restore your integrity.” I knew what I had to do. I put it off for three days though because I was really busy, and even though I knew I had to do it, I didn’t want to. For those three days there was a complete lack of the Spirit in my life. I felt like I was walking around in a daze. Finally, my schedule cleared up a little and I no longer had any excuse to wait. I deleted the music. All fifteen days of it. I also took a stack of burned CD’s about six inches thick out to the dumpster and threw them in. The Spirit came back and I have seen the blessings of that decision ever since.
The point is not to follow the Spirit, we all know to do that. The point is: I knew long before that I shouldn’t have had music that I hadn’t paid for, but I wasn’t willing to give it up. Like Esau who sold his birthright for a mess of pottage, I had been willing to sell my birthright as a King and Priest to the Most High God for a little dishonesty, because I thought not having to pay for music might be worth it. I’m ashamed to say that it took such a strong, clear, and direct prompting to get me to do what I already knew I should.
Is it Really Worth it?
And that’s what we need to ask ourselves, is it really worth it. Is a little disobedience really worth loosing our eternal thrones? Are all these things of the world worth it? To suffer for eternity knowing that we were called, chosen, and given a noble birthright to become Kings and Queens and we chose something else? Next time you feel a need be dishonest, or do something with somebody of the opposite gender that might be bordering on inappropriate, or want to get angry at someone, or treat somebody like less than they deserve, or do anything that you know is not in accordance with the commandments of God. Maybe it’s just “I don’t want to do my home or visiting teaching this month,” or perhaps “this film or TV show isn’t that bad.” Is it worth it? Is it worth it to loose my eternal throne, to give up kingdoms in my Father’s house, to loose out on an eternal family and all the blessings of a joint heir with Christ, just to do this one little thing?
Now does that mean that a simple little occasional violation of the Honor Code, or something similarly small will keep you from Celestial Glory? That little action in and of itself, will probably not keep you from Exaltation, but think about what it leads to, the bigger picture. Take for example the Honor Code. You did sign the Honor Code and agreed to follow it. That’s why it’s called an Honor Code. If you violate it, you taint your honor. If you violate one of the “smaller” rules you may not have sinned in that thing you have done, but the fact that you gave your word that you would obey that rule and then broke it, means that you are not honest in your dealings with your fellowmen, or your God. Is it worth it? Will you sell your birthright to become a King and Priest, Queen and Priestess, for a mess of pottage?
“What Shall We Do?”
But it goes far beyond this. Living up to our birthright is not just a mere matter of avoiding the things we already know we should not do. A large portion of it is learning and growing in our understanding so that we come to know everything that we must do to have the Atonement work in our lives to improve and make us worthy of being Kings and Queens.
Study the Scriptures:
One of the main ways in which we can do this is studying, not just reading, but really studying the scriptures. Mormon tells us in Alma 30 verse 5 that “the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to that which was just-yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than… anything else.” Elder Packer said it this way: “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.” I don’t think it can be said any better than that. If we study our scriptures we will learn the things of godliness, and we will grow closer to God through righteousness and obedience. There is power in the scriptures that we ignore at the risk of loosing our potential.
Seek Personal Revelation:
As we study the scriptures and seek to know and understand more, the Spirit will come into our lives with more frequency and teach us everything that we need to know. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said that we are entitled to revelation:
“Now I say that we are entitled to revelation. I say that every member of the Church, independent and irrespective of any position that he may hold, is entitled to get revelation from the Holy Ghost; he is entitled to entertain angels; he is entitled to view the visions of eternity; and if we would like to go the full measure, he is entitled to see God the same way that any prophet in the literal and actual reality has seen the face of Deity.” (How to Get Personal Revelation, New Era, June 1980)
In addition to really studying scriptures and seeking revelation through the Spirit, we need to participate in Priesthood ordinances. Many of these are done in temples, but others are not. We need to visit the temple as often as we can to participate in these ordinances, and we also must make sure that we are not taking lightly other more common ordinances, such as the Sacrament. Elder Oaks spoke about the Sacrament and clarified that we do not take upon ourselves Christ’s name, but rather we witness that we are willing to take upon us His name, when he is ready to give it to us. He then said:
“…when we witness our willingness to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ, we are signifying our commitment to do all we can to achieve eternal life in the kingdom of our Father. We are expressing our candidacy for-our determination to strive for-exaltation in the celestial kingdom.” (Taking Upon Us the Name of Jesus Christ, With Full Purpose of Heart, Dallin H. Oaks, 2002)
These ordinances are not simply there to remind us to say our prayers and spend a little time thinking about God. Ordinances such as the Sacrament are preparing us to become Gods. When we participate in these ordinances, we are making sacred covenants that will prepare us and point us toward further ordinances and covenants which will allow us to become Gods, joint heirs with Christ.
Repentance and the Atonement:
Finally I testify that repentance is real, that Christ through His miraculous Atoning sacrifice has made it possible for us to become Kings and Queens. If we will study scriptures, seek revelation, participate in the essential priesthood ordinances, and turn to Christ, he will make up the difference. He will make us into people who are worthy of the Birthright we have been given. In this way, we become his joint heirs. His birthright becomes our birthright and we become Gods just as he is.
The scriptures call him the “King of Kings,” and yet he himself said that his kingdom is not of this world. So if that doesn’t refer to the kings here on earth, who are the other kings that he is the King of? I hope that someday it will be you and I as we become joint heirs with him.
I know that Christ lives, that this is His church and gospel as restored by Joseph Smith His Prophet. And I’ll close with the words of President Kimball:
“O, my beloved youth, I pray you, date faithful members, marry only in the holy temples of God, plan your course, chart your way, live righteously always, listen to your leaders, read the scriptures, think sanely, pray much and often, earn your eternal throne, claim your crown, hold tightly the scepter, keep your inheritance inviolate.
“May you precious young people never abdicate your possible thrones, but become priests and kings of the most high throughout eternity, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.” (Kings & Priests, BYU Devotional, 15 Feb. 1966)