Signs and Tokens

October 31, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 11:43 pm   Category: Eternal Progression,Personal Revelation

“Let me give you a definition in brief. Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell.” (Discourses of Brigham Young [Deseret Book Co., 1941], p. 416.)

Using a nice cheap online dictionary we learn that the word “sign” can mean lots of things. I have decided that in this dictionary definition #7 is the closest to what Brigham was talking about.

A portentous incident or event; a presage: took the eclipse as a sign from God

Yes, I know there are symbolic signs we Mormons are given in certain sacred places, but it has recently dawned on me that it is all symbolic of real things in our upward journey toward a unity with God (aka exaltation). The real signs being pointed to are probably “signs from God” or various levels of revelation. The closer we get to God the more clear our revelations become.

The definition of tokens is found here. I suspect that we could go with a combination of definitions 1-3 and get to what Brigham meant.

Again, I realize we have symbolic tokens in our endowment ceremonies, but I think they symbolize something very real. I have recently concluded that the tokens are really our characters. I would say our actions or behaviors are the tokens but I think that the actions only are useful in helping our characters change — the only actions that matter are repentance related (and that is why we are to say nothing but repentance to this people).

So while God gives us the signs (revelation), we give him the tokens. The restoration of the church and the priesthood give us living prophets that teach us how to repent (and receive revelation) and our repentance allows us to present our new and improved selves to God as tokens. Then we get more signs, then we repent more and have another new and improved self to offer to God as token. (I’ve discussed this basic pattern before and I’ll probably discuss it again…)

What is the end of it all? We have all the signs and tokens required to enter His presence and become one with him.

39 Comments »

  1. Geoff,
    This seems to coincide with my latest post (which you have already commented on). I am arguing that the amount of “doctrine” we need in order to be saved is minimal (and mostly attained prior to baptism). It is mostly for the ordinances that we need the church (I think (this week)).
    I should also say that I am a fan of your cyclic approach to repentance and perfection. Just not the extension into MMP (but that is a topic for a different thread).

    Comment by John C. — November 1, 2005 @ 4:50 am

  2. We obviously use different cheap online dictionaries. Mine gives (for “sign”): “a mark having a conventional meaning and used in place of words or to represent a complex notion.” I don’t think the signs you’re talking about are used widely enough to have a “conventional” meaning. When they can’t even be talked about, there is no “conventional” usage. But the pointing function makes more sense, like the “sign of the cross,” which takes its meaning from the cross by pointing to it, but also shares in a larger meaning we attribute to “the cross” that goes beyond either the sign or the cross to which it points.

    Comment by Dave — November 1, 2005 @ 6:28 am

  3. It is the case that the amount of learned doctrine we need is minimal. The requirement is to live the doctrine, per 3 Ne. 11:31-40. The various priesthood ordinances are essential, but so is having a godly walk and repenting. We have to reconcile ourselves to God as a little child would. No complex esoteric doctrines about kooky crud there. As Geoff suggests, this can be taken as a “token” of a Christian life. All of the symbolic temple imagery and tokens are suggestive of the works we are to do, we are to extend our hands to do the Lord’s work and sacrifice for Him to help others, and in return we will hold out our hands to receive blessings.

    Comment by Kurt — November 1, 2005 @ 7:24 am

  4. John (and Kurt),

    I only sort of agree with you when you say the amount of “doctrine” we need in order to be saved is minimal (and mostly attained prior to baptism). It is true that the fundamentals are sketched out at a high level in places like 3 Nephi 11 (as Kurt notes) but I think that we must learn more doctrine over time to better inform our repentance. I think that our need for such doctrine is why God speaks to men — to give us directions how to act before God. I also believe one of the lessons of the temple is that we are guided by prophets and given signs (read: personal revelations) from God along the way to teach us how to specifically repent and change who we are (thus present our new selves as tokens to Him).

    I think we are fooling ourselves if we think we don’t need to fully comprehend the doctrines of God in order to be like God. Remember that no man can be saved in ignorance, and whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life will rise with us in the resurrection. But I believe the path we are on leads naturally to greater light and comprehension of these mysteries of godliness.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 1, 2005 @ 8:41 am

  5. Dave,

    I think we are talking about two diferent levels of symbolism. I certainly agree that the signs in places like the temple are symbols, but I am trying to pin down what real things in our mortal lives they symbolize. I am suggesting that in large part they symbolize personal revelation and that personal revelation leads to our repentance which allows us to pressnt new and improved versions of ourselves back to God as tokens.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 1, 2005 @ 8:45 am

  6. John C,

    You are right that how long the exaltation process takes prior to and after this life is a topic for another thread, but I must say that anyone who preaches that there is no progression between kingdoms might not be paying close enough attention to the endowment ceremony — or at least is seeing the symbolism completely differently than I do…

    Comment by Geoff J — November 1, 2005 @ 8:49 am

  7. I’m going to make a sort of outlandish (but I think interesting enough to mention) contribution to this discussion. Did you know that disappointment with the Kirtland endowment was one of William McLellin’s major motivations for apostacy? In a September 15, 1870 statement in the Saint’s Herald (the RLDS official newspaper), McLellin said:

    The next April [1836] was appointed for our endowment. We passed through it; but I, in all candor say, we were most egregiously mistaken or disappointed!

    In a few days I said to Joseph: “I am disappointed! I supposed — yes, I believed that during the endowment, I should get knowledge; but I have not.”

    He said to me, “What do you want?”

    I said, “I want to know for myself.”

    He laid his hands upon my head, and prophesied this: “If you will take a mission to the south, and pray fervently upon the hills and in the deep valleys, before you return you shall have your soul’s desires.”

    On the 9th of April I started on my southern tour, but did not realize what had been promised.

    (Quoted in Larry C. Porter, “The Odyssey of William Earl McLellin: Man of Diversity, 1806-83,” pg. 320, in Shipps and Welch, eds., 1994, The Journals of William E. McLellin, 1831-1836.)

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — November 1, 2005 @ 9:15 am

  8. Now let me briefly offer my thoughts as to what the signs and tokens symbolize in the temple: mostly nothing, I think. As Greg Kearney explains in this web page (also in this podcast),

    When Joseph was first trying to communicate the truths of the endowment he used a ritual form familiar to the saints of his day. That ritual form was, in some respects, Masonic in nature. As the saints lost their connection to Masonry the symbolic meaning of the penalties and other Masonic elements was lost as well. They became meaningless to all but a few Latter-day Saint Freemasons. So the penalties were removed along with other elements both Masonic and non-Masonic which no longer served the purpose of communicating the truths of the endowment.

    This is, in my experience, a reasonably standard (if unusually clear in Kearney’s exposition) explanation for why members of the church shouldn’t worry about the fact that the temple ritual undergoes substantial change over time. I find it to be a reasonable explanation.

    I don’t, however, see any reason that we necessarily ought to assign the “signs and tokens” aspect of the ceremony to the “endowment” portion of the ordinance as opposed to the “ritual form” portion of the ordinance. The substantive covenants are obviously part of the endowment, but I see no evidence that I find compelling, either in scripture or in the ordinance itself, that the other details fall in that category. Hence, I would be not at all surprised to find that, in a generation, a new revision of the temple ceremony removes the signs and tokens as not essential and as no longer meaningful to the current generation. (They certainly do make a wide range of members uncomfortable, after all — and that was the major justification for the recent changes to the washing and anointing…)

    That said, I actually like Geoff’s interpretation of them. This is, I think, pretty good work with the available symbolic resources!

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — November 1, 2005 @ 9:27 am

  9. I feel that the pattern here is partly a system of covenants. We make certain covenants – symbolized by the signs and tokens. If we remain true and faithful to those covenants, and we seek further light and knowledge, we can receive that knowledge under covenent. With knowledge and revelation come responsibility. We need to promise that, and keep that promise in order to gain further light and knowledge.

    I see this with the first principles and ordinances such as baptism. If the investigator verbally commits to certain things, they may be baptized. If they are true to their covenants they may receive the Aaronic priesthood – but they must show their worthiness to do so. And on and on. I feel that is a large part of what the endowment is representing.

    Comment by OOOOOT — November 1, 2005 @ 10:35 am

  10. Geoff,

    With respect to the “no man can be saved in ignorance” quote, Smith is not talking about an intellectual ascent. He is talking about people who are ignore-ant, or deliberately ignoring his message. They are deliberately rejecting what he is preaching and so they are not saved because they are choosing to ignore. He isnt making a statement forwarding the view that some sort of mystical knowledge was requisite for salvation.

    As far as learning as we go, that is absolutely required. But, it is not the sort of knowledge you would get from a textbook. It is not like this:

    PhD Theology = Celestial Kingdom
    MS Theology = Terrestrial Kingdom
    BS Theology = Telestial Kingdom
    HS dropout = Outer Darkness

    The kind of knowledge the Scriptures advocate is an experiential one, where you know someone (in this particular case God) by spending time with him, following him, learning from him, and doing the things he tells you to do. In this way your life becomes a token because you are reconciling your walk to His will and following the example of Jesus Christ. The knowledge you obtain is the understanding of the will of the Father by doing the works and having the experience.

    We Westerners too often think of knowledge primarily as an intellectual persuit, when it really should be the other way around. The mystery of godliness is what people can learn by the difficult task of doing God’s will.

    Comment by Kurt — November 1, 2005 @ 11:30 am

  11. I don’t, however, see any reason that we necessarily ought to assign the “signs and tokens” aspect of the ceremony to the “endowment” portion of the ordinance as opposed to the “ritual form” portion of the ordinance. The substantive covenants are obviously part of the endowment, but I see no evidence that I find compelling, either in scripture or in the ordinance itself, that the other details fall in that category.

    I’d disagree (as I have disagreed with Greg elsewhere). In my view, the S&T are an integral part of the covenant-making and endowment, not part of any presumed un-necessary “ritual.” As Greg acknowledges, there are differences, and those differences *are* significant. I’m not comfortable making a detailed argument publicly, but suffice to say that Greg’s area of expertise is Masonry, not Old Testament ritual and symbolism.

    This statement

    as to what the signs and tokens symbolize in the temple: mostly nothing

    which I strongly disagree with, shows that it is also not yours.

    Lest I be misunderstood, I am not arguing that Masonry had no influence on the temple ordinances. In my mind, it just doesn’t extend as far as many assume it does.

    Comment by Ben S. — November 1, 2005 @ 12:05 pm

  12. RT – First, Thanks for the compliment on my interpretation of the S&T. Second, I must say that am in Ben’s camp on the question about the importance of the S&T. Nibley spent a lot of time defending the idea that the entire ceremony is of very ancient origin and came from God to prophets. I believe that.

    Kurt – It sounds like we ar agreeing. I think you are unecessarily trying to create a dichotomy between “experiential knowledge and “intellectual” knowledge. I think the two are inextricably intertwined. Experience increases our intellectual knowledge and intellectual knowledge allows us to have and understand more experiences.

    Oooot – “We make certain covenants – symbolized by the signs and tokens.”

    I must disagree with you here. The covenants we make are very explicit. The sign and tokens symbolize something beyond that. I’m with you on the rest of your comment though.

    Ben – Thanks for the input. I’m with ya.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 1, 2005 @ 12:37 pm

  13. I am trying to pin down what real things in our mortal lives they symbolize.

    Geoff (#5), wouldn’t each token/sign symbolize the covenant associated (read: given in connection) with it? That is, one keeps the “sign/token sacred” by keeping the stipulations of the covenant associated with that particular token/sign? Anyone else thought of this?

    there is no progression between kingdoms

    Geoff, get a hold of me privately–I’ve got extensive notes from the archives on this which endorses your point. davidjwinter@yahoo.com

    Kurt: Bravo on your “ignorance” explanation! I’ve thought the same thing too, and also let’s look at the context. Most Mormons miss that verse 5, which immediately precedes verse 6, discusses the “knowledge” to which a man/woman should not be ignorant. That knowledge (again, my appeal here is to context) then would be the “knowing that he is sealed up unto ceternal life (v. 5).” I hope that makes sense.

    Comment by David J — November 1, 2005 @ 3:08 pm

  14. Old Testament ritual and symbolism

    Ben, I totally hear you. I had an exegesis class on the Historical Books, and when we studied Joshua 24 I about fell out of my chair by how closely the (pre-1990) endowment seems to fit. There are all kinds of connections — reviews of Israel’s history, people saying “yes” in unison, stipulations of the covenant, penalties for breaking it, and signs. Now I usually use Josh. 24 as a paradigm for teaching covenant-making. It seems to work very well.

    Comment by David J — November 1, 2005 @ 3:23 pm

  15. Geoff (#5), wouldn’t each token/sign symbolize the covenant associated (read: given in connection) with it? That is, one keeps the “sign/token sacred” by keeping the stipulations of the covenant associated with that particular token/sign?

    I thought this was fairly self-evident, but apparently not.

    When I teach the 2nd temple prep lesson, it’s all about holiness and guardian figures that protect and preserve that holiness. We want to get to where God is and be like he is. God is holy, we must be holy. How do we become holy? We make covenants and we keep them, and we make them in the Temple. We read BY’s quote and go into S&T in general. I bring up the s/t in Gen. 9:13 and 17:11. How valid is the rainbow as a token of God’s covenant if God says “heck with it” and floods the Earth? S&T are only valid if we keep the covenant they’re associated with.

    I relate S&T to the covenants and try to draw a banking analogy. Imagine that you want to do business with the Celestial bank. In order to do so, you need both an account # with them and money in your account. The account #=S&T, money= keeping the associated covenants. If your account is empty, you can’t do anything (ie., if you simply know the S&T but haven’t kept the associated covenants, you can’t pass by the guardian figures.) Likewise, the bank won’t do business with you unless you have an account with them, no matter how much money you have. (ie. If you’ve led a good moral life, you still need the ordinances before you can get in.)

    On guardian figures/gatekeepers, see
    Matthew Brown, Symbols in Stone, 130-131.

    “Temple Motifs in Jewish Mysticism” – William Hamblin. TAW: 440-476. Gospelink (subscription required). Examines the theme in early Jewish literature of ascending into heaven, bypassing the gatekeepers/sentinels, and entering God’s presence.

    “Early Jewish and Christian Practices Related to the Temple.” – John Tvedtnes. FAIR presentation.

    “The Keeper of the Gate.” – John Gee. TTE: 233-274. Examines Egyptian, early Coptic (Egyptian Christian) and Jewish traditions of temple gatekeepers. Cf. 2 Nephi 9:41-2

    I also rambled about it a little in comment 20 of this post

    (These are linked off of http://home.uchicago.edu/~spackman/temple )

    David J., I hear ya. There is good, good stuff there. I use Exodus 24 myself.

    Comment by Ben S. — November 1, 2005 @ 5:44 pm

  16. David and Ben,

    I guess what I am saying to that there will never be literal angels that we have to literally give the signs and tokens we receive in the temple to. I now think that is all symbolic of the real signs and tokens that lead us upward to exaltations. The real signs are personal revelations. The real tokens are our newly improved characters that result from our repenting and obeying the covenants we make.

    To show further evidence, I think by the time anyone gets to the temple now they have already presented to God nearly all of the real signs and tokens that are symbolically taught there. They have already learned and obeyed most of the things covenanted to do there. All but the final promise must be done for a year after baptism to even qualify for the endowment. In that teaching environment we are symbolically shown how a person goes from the beginning to exaltation. Then we learn the last step — the final one we need to obey and through our obedience get the necessary revelations and character change to make that next step and enter that unity with God that we desire. It is of course the law of consecration. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when I hear saints say “we are not asked to live the law of consecration yet”. We symbolically get all of the signs and tokens in the temple but we won’t get the real final signs and token that allows us to actually pierce the veil until we actually live the law of consecration.

    I just can’t figure out how to get myself to do that yet…

    Comment by Geoff J — November 2, 2005 @ 1:33 am

  17. I’ve come to the conclusion that the physical signs and tokens are not an integral part of the temple ritual. If it were so important, then why do we make adjustments for people who have no arms or fingers? Baptism by immersion makes no such adjustments. You will never see some one who would have a physically difficult time getting baptized be sprinkled with water instead of being immersed. Why? Because immersion is an integral part of the baptisim ritual. That’s my two cents on it.

    Comment by BHM — November 2, 2005 @ 6:41 am

  18. BHM, you think someone should be denied their temple ordinances because they’re missing an arm?

    Comment by Ben S. — November 2, 2005 @ 8:08 am

  19. Ben, that’s perhaps not a very charitable reading of BHM’s comment. The point, I think, was to highlight the very broad flexibility that our leadership has shown with the endowment ordinances — as compared with the near-total lack of flexibility associated with the sacrament, baptism, and other non-temple ordinances. That flexibility at the least signals a difference in status between the temple ordinances and the less-flexible ordinances, and may well suggest that the temple ordinances have more human content than do the others.

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — November 2, 2005 @ 8:26 am

  20. there will never be literal angels that we have to literally give the signs and tokens we receive in the temple to.

    I see your point, and it is cogent. I have thought much the same way as well, but with one minor difference. I haven’t completely made up my mind about it yet. You see, if we don’t believe something, then it can never happen to us. If I don’t believe I can receive angelic ministry, then it won’t happen. However, if I open the door to that possibility, then, to say the very least, the possibility of it happening also exists. See the logic? Don’t count yourself short, man. It could happen to you if you allow the possibility for it to happen. If you don’t want it to happen, then you’re on the right track. Many times I don’t want that sort of thing to happen too — too freaky.

    Now, with that said, I’ve posted my take on the “give me the correct sign” thing on another blog (can’t remember which), indicating that I thought it would be silly that the sense of touch becomes the sole method by which one tests the veracity of the message of the spirit. I think there may be something more to it than most people think (as is often the case with sacred things).

    Comment by David J — November 2, 2005 @ 8:54 am

  21. RT, that’s exactly what I meant. If a person is going through the temple with out an arm, they can still recieve their endownment and make covenants without really doing the ordinance fully or correctly. I mean, how can you? You don’t have an arm. But if someone one had some type of physical problem that would make baptisim by immersion difficult or immpossible, there’s no alternative. You either get baptized by immersion, or you don’t get baptized at all. There’s no accomadation like there is in the temple ceremony.

    Comment by BHM — November 2, 2005 @ 8:55 am

  22. RT, it may not be charitable, I’m frequently a poor judge of that. BUt it *is* the logical extension of his(her?) comments. That a small part of the temple is malleable under certain extreme and rare circumstances does not imply that that part nor the whole is completely up for grabs. Neither baptism nor sacrament are comparable in length or complexity, and to compare them to the whole of temple ordinances is to compare a particular verse to a whole book.

    My point was that no one is kept from the temple ordinances because of physical problems. They still make the covenants, they still pass through the temple, they still learn what everyone else does. It’s not as if they are exempted from anything, or anything extra is added for them.

    As I see it, the Church has two options.
    1) Deny those who are physically unable, perhaps taking the tack that God won’t deny them in the eternities what they had no control over.
    2) Make some accomodation.

    I simply don’t see the “accomodation” at the temple as being indicative of non-necessity. (And I recall the day in the Provo temple when we new workers were instructed as to procedure when someone came in missing an arm, etc.)

    Assuming (as I do) that the person will actually carry out the action at some point in the hereafter when they have a perfected body, (something not implied at all for baptism), I really don’t see how an accomodation implies non-intrinsicness.

    Comment by Ben S. — November 2, 2005 @ 8:58 am

  23. I think BMH’s point was the opposite of what you said Ben. The point is you don’t need arms to receive all the blessings therefore the signs and token there are not required for the blessings there.

    Comment by Geoff J — November 2, 2005 @ 8:59 am

  24. In the last comment, I meant to add that because of the perfected body, the person will be both physically (resurrection) and mentally (because of the temple) to carry out that action.

    Comment by Ben S. — November 2, 2005 @ 9:00 am

  25. Since we’re on the subject of missing arms and performing ordinances, what about confirmations or priesthood blessings? You learn that laying on of hands is necessary to give the gift of the holy ghost or to perform a blessing, but what if a man had no arms? Would he be able to confirm his kid? I guess if there were other people in the cirlce with arms that hold the priesthood, the hands thing is taken care of. But what if he wanted to give a blessing in his home and he didn’t have someone with hands to help him? Could he give a blessing by the authority of the priesthood without laying on hands? I know it’s stupid and probably not essential for my salvation, but I’m curious about the protocol in these types of situations.

    Comment by BHM — November 2, 2005 @ 9:55 am

  26. BHM,

    One need not have hands to perform priesthood ordinances and blessings. There is an oft repeated story about President Kimball calling a wounded war vet to be a stake patriarch. Hhad lost both arms above the elbow. The joke was that Pres Kimball sat in a chair and asked the man to place the stumps of his arms on his head. Wehn he did so Pres Kimball said “See, i’m probably the shortest person you’ll ever have to do that for”.

    David J,

    I actually have no doubts that I will literally meet angels and even God one day. I even believe it is possible for us to pierce the veil (a la the Brother of Jared or Joseph) in the this life. What I don’t think will happen is me giving them the symbolic tokens and signs I learned in the temple. I think those are only types and shadows of the other things (revelation and improved characters is my theory for now).

    Comment by Geoff J — November 2, 2005 @ 11:36 am

  27. GeoffJ, I’m sure we are largely agreeing. I don’t intend to create a false dichotomy, I am pointing out that the word “knowledge” has different meanings depending upon context. In the world of academia, where theology is often plied, the “knowledge” there is much different from the kind of “knowledge” Christ advocates, along the lines of Pharisaical learning versus Christian discipleship, learning from postulation versus practical knowledge from experience. I guess my point is there arent a set of mystical esoteric keys and tokens, the possession of which gets you into the Kingdom of God (e.g., along the lines of gnosticism or rosicrucianism). Rather, there is a knowledge of godliness through doing the works of Christ which gets you into the Kingdom of God.

    DavidJ, what I said about ignorance isn’t anything brilliant on my part, consider a relevant quote from Smith:

    “There are a great man wise men and women too in our midst who are too wise to be taught; therefore they must die in their ignorance, and in the resurrection they will find their mistake. Many seal up the door of heaven by saying, ‘So far God may reveal and I will believe.'” (TPJS, 309)

    These are people who are not ignorant in the sense of being unlearned or stupid, they are ignorant in the sense of deliberately ignoring/rejecting what is set before them.

    Comment by Kurt — November 3, 2005 @ 8:37 am

  28. Kurt, I don’t know about you, but I’m putting a lot of trust in ye brothers RC to come through with the secret knowledge that will get me into heaven.

    P.S. I understand that this comment isn’t that funny. I just really wanted an excuse to say “ye brothers RC.”

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — November 3, 2005 @ 9:09 am

  29. Kurt, that’s one of my faves from JS. Here’s another along the lines of “knowledge” :

    Knowledge saves a man; and in the world of spirits no man can be exalted but by knowledge. TPJS, 357.

    We also talk a lot about the faith of the Brother of Jared, yet most miss Ether 3:19:

    And because of the knowledge of this man he could not be kept from beholding within the veil; and he saw the finger of Jesus, which, when he saw, he fell with fear; for he knew that it was the finger of the Lord; and he had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting.

    It seems that he was made privy to the stuff on the other side because of knowledge… Very curious stuff.

    Comment by David J — November 3, 2005 @ 10:57 am

  30. RT,

    Look, I didnt want to say anything, this is just between you and me, but I have obtained a long lost copy of Dialectics of Ye Brothers RC:Exposed and Explained!. I’ll let you have a copy of it for 5K, but just because we’re friends. Send the money via PayPal to my e-mail address.

    P.S., Add another 2K if you want the appendix on Jacob’s Ladder.

    Comment by Kurt — November 3, 2005 @ 12:26 pm

  31. Oh, what I’d give to see a SS/PH or RS discussion like this.

    Comment by Steve EM — November 4, 2005 @ 10:00 am

  32. What about the idea that the tokens that we “receive” are akin to the priesthood ordinations we received in a pre-mortal existence (a la Alma 13)? They could still symbolize different levels of spiritual atainment, but could also represent levels of spirituality/service we are called to or can attain? Hints of MMP and future attainable degrees of exaltation here?

    Comment by Rob — January 18, 2006 @ 7:12 pm

  33. I think the overall message is that of the journey from pre-sentience to exaltation. It seems to me that the hard part for us is the last covenant we make. If we can keep that individually and as a couple, the blessings seem to be sure.

    Comment by Geoff J — January 18, 2006 @ 7:45 pm

  34. Agreed. Though each token could represent a stage in that journey. Each perhaps requiring an additional mortal probation to achieve–from priesthood ordinations in a previous existence, to our current state, and on to future mortalities where we may have opportunities to follow more closely in the steps of Christ and the Father?

    Comment by Rob — January 18, 2006 @ 8:08 pm

  35. This is off the subject, but I just realized I can look up words on the computer. It has never crossed my mind before.

    Comment by annegb — January 19, 2006 @ 7:03 am

  36. Geoff, have you thought much more on this one?

    Comment by BHodges — March 12, 2009 @ 8:35 pm

  37. Hey Blair,

    I had forgotten about this old post. But I like it. Signs = Revelations from God; Tokens = Our ever improving character that we present to God. The attaining and giving of these signs and tokens attends our earthly journey toward oneness with God.

    One thing that has changed for me since this post is my leanings leanings regarding the nature of spirits/intelligences. When I wrote this I leaned toward the spirit atomism idea where the particles of our spirits/intelligences are beginningless but we aren’t. I now lean more toward what I call the “whole cloth” model where our spirits are irreducible. That foundational assumption changes a great deal.

    Comment by Geoff J — March 12, 2009 @ 9:19 pm

  38. How to use your Endowment of Power
    Posted on April 24, 2014 by c j

    Dear Brothers and Sisters consider yourselves Adam and Eve,

    Adam and Eve…we are brought back into the Lord’s Presence…
    By using your priesthood keys-signs-tokens-

    These next pages are some of my journal writings, from various sources. That helped me move along rapidly in my progression. They are treasures and I will share them with you…
    Even if you have the keys they will not work until your heart and hands are pure.

    Ether 6:17 and they were taught to walk humbly before the Lord; and they were also taught from on high.

    Follow the Spirit…He will lead you to All Truth…The Order of Heaven…
    Rend the veil of unbelief, and then shall the greater things be manifest…
    All the Saints of God…The Sons and Daughters of God…Belong to the Church of the Firstborn…Access to heavenly messengers… and Jesus Christ Himself…

    Doing what Adam and Eve did…
    Adam: Let us do as we were commanded and seek the face of the Creator. We will take of this world, limbs, skins and stones, and we will build a place wherein we may seek His face.
    10) Eve: It is good that we act upon the commandments we have been given.

    11) Narrator: Adam took tree limbs, animal skins and stones and built a place where he and Eve could pray. And when they went down into the place and offered up their thanks for everything that they had learned,

    How to use your Endowment of Power…Follow the footsteps of Adam and Eve, they began to be visited by Heavenly spirit beings. Every day they were visited by different instructors. And Adam built an altar and offered an oblation to the Lord.

    12) Adam: Oh God! Hear the words of my mouth! Oh Father! Hear the words that I am praying! Oh Lord! Can You hear the words of my prayer?

    13) Angel of the Lord: Why do you offer sacrifice at this altar?

    14) Adam: I know not, save that I was commanded to do so.

    15) Angel of the Lord: That which you shall do in this place and upon this altar is in accordance with the Law of the Gospel. You shall offer sacrifice here that shall be in the likeness and similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of the Father. It is good that you are obedient to the commands of your Lord.

    16) Narrator: And when Adam offered his oblation unto the Lord, Satan was also attracted by the commotion. He appears as a wise old man.

    17) Satan: What is wanted?

    18) Adam: I am praying for messengers from my Father.

    19) Satan: Oh, you want religion. What you need is good, sound religion. I will have preachers come and teach religion to you by and by. Listen to them, for they are wise like me.

    20) Narrator: The old man stayed with Adam and Eve for many years and he taught them all of the ways of men.

    We have to prepare our hearts and minds to receive instructions from the angels and heavenly messengers the Lord sends…When we have our home altar prepared…The Law of the Gospel, we have to have an altar and a place set apart and made holy…just like our first parents…

    Satan will tell you another plan…listen to wise old men and learn religion.

    The family altar has been removed from LDS instruction…

    Before 1978 (1), prayer circles were held outside of the temple, with many Stake Centers having altars that adjoined the High Council room. Extra-temple prayer circles can be traced back to their foundations in Nauvoo. George Albert Smith preached in the completed Temple in 1845:

    When we come together * * and unite our hearts and act as one mind, the Lord will hear us and will answer our prayers…Said that whenever they could get an opportunity they retired to the wilderness or to an upper room, they did so * * * and were always answered. It would be a good thing for us * * every day and pray to God in private circles.

    It is, perhaps, from this focus on the quotidian ritual that a fixture emerged among the saints that is generally forgotten: the family altar. The idea of walking into somebody’s house who is Mormon and seeing an altar in their living room borders on the absurd or apostate. However, for the Saints of the 19th and early 20th centuries, the family altar was consistently preached from the pulpit and in Church periodicals (3).

    Joseph F. Smith preached in 1881:
    …it is absolutely necessary that the Latter-day Saints should come together in the family capacity, and kneeling around the family altar, call upon God for his blessings morning and evening. And they need not confine themselves to morning and evening prayer, for it is their privilege to enter into their closets and call upon Him in secret, that He might reward them openly.

    Wilford Woodruff recorded in his journal Brigham Young’s understanding of the family altar:
    I attended the prayer meeting in the evening. President Young said the family Altar was the same as an Altar in the prayer Circle. It is for parents and Children to Join hands over the Altar and pray.
    Now, I am sanguine that there are many who call themselves Latter-day Saints, who have neglected their duty in this respect, and many a son is permitted to grow to manhood, whose father has never asked him to bow with them at the family altar. This is a serious neglect upon the part of those who have named the name of Jesus, who have come up to these mountains to be taught in the ways of the Lord.

    Comment by cindy mexico — April 24, 2014 @ 4:30 pm

  39. Needing to be taught from on high….following in the foot steps of our first parents Adam and Eve….

    Lastly, in 1905, Elder Hyrum Smith promoted the use of the family altar as a means of spiritual self sufficiency:
    We ought not to complain if our stake conferences come and go and we do not have in our midst one of the brethren known as the authorities of the Church…You should not feel to complain, even though one of the Twelve, or the First Council of Seventy, or even the First Presidency, find it impossible to be with you.

    You should read the word of the Lord from the books, and kneeling down around the family altar, you should commune with the Lord and ask Him for wisdom, judgment and enlightenment. You should depend more upon Him and less than some of us do upon those who constitute the authorities of the church.

    On May 3, 1978, the First Presidency announced that all prayer circles outside the temple were to be discontinued.

    Teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith pg.237
    …Setting forth the order pertaining to the Ancient of Days (Adam) and all those plans and principles by which any one is enabled to secure those plans and principles, by which anyone is enabled to secure the fullness of those blessings which have been prepared for the Church of the Firstborn, and come up and abide in the presence of the Elohim in the eternal worlds…

    Keys must be used to obtain the fullness of blessings, and a sure word of prophecy…
    Page 326 (TPJS)
    I anointed him to the patriarchal power—to receive the keys of knowledge and power, by revelation to himself…

    Adam and Eve prayed in the true order of prayer use their signs and tokens—knowledge and power…We need to do the same thing… Moses 5: 4, 10

    4 And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from (the way) toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence.

    10 And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.

    The use of the signs, and tokens (TPJS)
    The Father desires all to come back in His Presence…
    These same keys of communications were given to us in the endowment

    TPJS pg.237 with these keys the latter-day saints are able to approach God in the proper manor and learn to commune with heaven these keys, where by an individual may ask and receive an answer, all who receive their endowments receive the keys of the priesthood…which are the signs and tokens used in prayer…with these keys we are enable to commune with the heavens, and the Church of the Firstborn…

    How are you going to receive Heavenly Messengers?
    And be introduced into the Terrestrial World…?

    Comment by cindy mexico — April 24, 2014 @ 4:31 pm

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