Every Christian, regardless of their faith, that accepts Jesus Christ as their personal Savior is saved. They have earned salvation, being saved by Grace. This is the beginning of the path to exaltation that ends at the Resurrection. At this time we will get our eternal physical bodies and our mansions in heaven, prepared for us by Christ. How do we get this promise, and is it even possible in this life? How do we join the Church of the Firstborn (Hebrews 12: 22-23)?
Having one’s calling and election made sure, also known as receiving the second comforter, used to be a common thing in the LDS Church. In fact, one use to have to have had gone through this process to be called as a Stake President. Today, it is unclear if even apostles must be a part of the Church of the Firstborn.
We know the Joseph Smith Jr. was a member of the Church of the Firstborn, as Christ told him so (D&C 78: 21). Thus, it is possible to join this Church in this life. In fact, the Church even has an ordinance for it. Just as the washing and anointing (known as the initiatory) are the invitation to join, the second anointing is the capstone – the last sacrament where our calling and election is made sure and we receive the Second Comforter. The Holy Ghost is the first, as we learn and grow grace by grace – Jesus Christ being the second as our faith is rewarded. In the second anointing ceremony, the qualifiers from the initiatory are removed, as the person being anointed has met them.
Some say this is too much, something they are afraid of, that they are too weak to handle. Rather than something to fear, this should be the desire of every true Christian. It is Satan that places this fear and doubt in our hearts. The Lord, after all, seeks all to enter His Kingdom.
How then do we, personally, become worthy of this final sacrament? For males, one must become a High Priest (D&C 107: 18-19). This is something one of my Bishops told me can only happen once someone is a grandfather or has been given a Stake calling. So, patience is needed for men. One must have gone through the temple. Along with the Initiatory, taking out one’s endowment is the check list of things needed to earn the second anointing. There are, of course, no secret hand shakes that will get one into heaven, but rather these signs and tokens are keys to understanding what we need to do to get to the Church of the Firstborn.
It is clear to anyone familiar with the temple ritual that the point we are learning is that we have everything we need to do to start our journey. We have been through all the needed sacraments and received all of the needed priesthoods (other than men becoming High Priests). Like Adam and Eve, we fell, but through Christ we may be saved – this is the lesson of the temple endowment. It represents our journey leaving the mundane world to become Christ’s. While temple marriage is encouraged before obtaining the second anointing, it is not mandatory.
However, all of this is external. They are the works, the sacraments needed to cleanse us and keep us clean. Anyone can go through the rituals, it is the internal self we work on, as understood by the covenants we re-make. The temple covenants are, of course, the same ones we make at baptism and are not new or special in any way. They are pointed out to illustrate things we may have missed and are based on things we have already done or have promised to do. Even the garments. But everything moving forward is now internal, the outward works of baptism through initiatories having been completed.
Our bodies now clean through the blood of Christ, we have shown our grace by our works. As James said: “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2: 20, see 20-26). With the focus now on solely on our internal works, we must know how to move forward. The path has been clearly outlined by Peter in 2 Peter 1: 2-10. He points out that we must grow grace by grace, in Christ. Once fully matureed we may enter into the Church of the Firstborn. His list is simple:
- Grow in grace, ever multiplying it
- Know God, truly work to get to know Him as one man knows another
- Learn of and from Him
- Work on our divine nature, driving out sin
- Be diligent
- Grow your faith
- Grow in knowledge
- All things in moderation (as you learn and grow, don’t put the cart before the horse)
- Be patient with yourself
- Have Godly patients (be patient with others)
- Love others
- Be charitable
- Be Christlike
- Don’t judge others, you were once in darkness too
- Have your calling and election made sure
Notice that all of these lead us to how to treat others. This makes sense, seeing that all of the Law and the Prophets rest on the acts of loving God and loving our neighbors (Matthew 22: 36-40).
This is the clearest path from salvation into exaltation. Once we know God by accepting Christ’s grace we will want to grow in Him, learn more of Him, be like Him. This is the realization of our divine nature and we will want to put our natural man aside to grow closer to Christ. We cannot do this without being constantly diligent, growing our faith, growing in knowledge, tempering our will to become one with the Divine Will, losing ourselves enough to grow in Christ, as we grow remembering that others are on another path and helping them grow with brotherly love. This brotherly love demands that we care for others thus we become more Christlike. During this journey is becomes tempting to want to force others to get on the path, but there is no joy in this. We must all seek the light for ourselves. Once we realize this and have grown, grace by grace, to a fullness, Christ will not be able to hide from you. Like the Brother of Jarod, Christ will not be able to hide as your faith will open your eyes (Either 3: 9).
Having one’s calling and election made sure is a sacred experience that should not be overlooked. It is what all Christians strive for, even if we do not know what it is. While there are sacraments needed for this to happen, it is our faith – who we are inside – that gets us there, not our works. If we look at the path outlined by Peter we can know where we are on that path to better reach this goal.