Elder Bruce R. McConkie: The Caravan Moves On!

Now, I have what every true disciple has. It is called the testimony of Jesus. In our day it includes the revealed knowledge that the earthly kingdom—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—will triumph. In this connection may I set before you this illustration:

The Church is like a great caravan—organized, prepared, following an appointed course, with its captains of tens and captains of hundreds all in place.

What does it matter if a few barking dogs snap at the heels of the weary travelers? Or that predators claim those few who fall by the way? The caravan moves on.

Is there a ravine to cross, a miry mud hole to pull through, a steep grade to climb? So be it. The oxen are strong and the teamsters wise. The caravan moves on.

Are there storms that rage along the way, floods that wash away the bridges, deserts to cross, and rivers to ford? Such is life in this fallen sphere. The caravan moves on.

Ahead is the celestial city, the eternal Zion of our God, where all who maintain their position in the caravan shall find food and drink and rest. Thank God that the caravan moves on!

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.

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There Was Only One Plan Presented in Heaven

Who is the Author of the Plan of Salvation?
By: Bruce R. McConkie

of the First Council of the Seventy

The Improvement Era

May, 1953
Who created and presented the plan of salvation as it was adopted in the pre-existent councils in heaven? Did Christ offer one plan which would allow men their agency, and Lucifer sponsor another founded on compulsion?

Although we sometimes hear it said that there were two plans – Christ’s plan of freedom and agency, and Lucifer’s of slavery and compulsion – such teaching does not conform to the revealed word. Christ did not present a plan of redemption and salvation nor did Lucifer. There were not two plans up for consideration; there was only one; and that was the plan of the Father: originated, developed, presented, and put in force by him. Christ, however, made the Father’s plan his own by his willing obedience to its terms and provisions.

A knowledge of these pre-existent events in God’s heavenly kingdom will help us understand the true order of things in his earthly kingdom, the Church, and also will point a course for the wise Saint to follow in all his affairs. Briefly this is what too k place:

The Father is and was a Personage of tabernacle, a Holy Man having a body of flesh and bones. To him were born the hosts of pre-existent spirit children of whom Jehovah, or Christ, was the eldest, the firstborn. Lucifer, “a son of the morning,” was among this host, as also were the spirits of all men, who have been or yet will be born on earth.

These spirits, endowed with agency and governed by law, developed a variety of talents and capacities. Some became noble and great. Lucifer attained unto a position of eminence and authority, but Christ, pre-eminent above them all, became “like unto God “.

Speaking of pre-existence, Joseph Smith said: “God himself, finding he was in the midst of spirits and glory, because he was more intelligent, saw proper to institute laws whereby the rest could have a privilege to advance like himself. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, P. 354) These laws, the Father’s plan of redemption and salvation, included, among other things, the following:

1.

At the Father’s command Christ and other noble and great spirits  were to create this earth.

2.

Then each spirit child was to be born into mortality, gain a temporal body in which to house the eternal spirit, and pass through a probationary testing to determine eventual fitness for a life of the kind the Father enjoyed.

3.

Body and spirit were to be separated, temporarily, by death, the spirit going to a world of waiting spirits, and the body back to the dust of the earth.

4.

The chief cornerstone of the whole plan was to be the atoning sacrifice of a Redeemer, one of the Father’s spirit sons who was to be born into the world as his literal Son in the flesh. By this means was to be effected a resurrection, a reunion of body and spirit in immortality, the two never again to be separated.

5.

And finally there was to be a day of judgment when a just measure would be meted to every man, and when those who fully qualified by righteousness would be raised, not only in immortality, but also unto eternal life, the kind of life which the Father himself has.

Step by step this plan was unfolded, taught, and put into operation. Thus after the earth was created, after the prospect of mortality had been announced, after the prospect of death and a resurrection were known, after the need for a Redeemer had been heralded in the courts on high, the Father spoke these very words:

“Whom shall I send?” (Abraham 3:27) That is whom shall I send to b e my Son in the flesh, to suffer both body and spirit in Gethsemane while taking upon himself the sins of the world to be lifted up upon the cross, to ransom men from the fall, to be the Redeemer?

There were two volunteers, Both said, “Here am I, send me>” (Abraham 3:27) But Christ, who was the first, also said: “Father thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.” (Moses 4:2) That is: I will continue to accept your plan of redemption, accept it without change or modification. And thine be the glory!

Lucifer, the second volunteer, had no such spirit of obedience. “I will be thy son,” he said, “and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do i t; wherefore give me thine honor.” (Moses 4:1) That is: Lucifer favored the Father’s plan by which the spirit children were to obtain bodies of flesh and bones, were to die, were to be resurrected. But Lucifer wanted to abandon the testing or probationary part of mortality; he wanted to take away the agency of man, forestall the need of a judgment according to works, and impose salvation upon all men without effort on their part – an impossible thing since there can be no progression except by the upward pull of obedience to law. And as a final blow: Lucifer sought to obtain as his personal reward, the very power, position, and throne of the Father himself.

The issue was squarely put. A decision must be made, and the Father (always the Father!) issued the decree: “I will send the first,” (Abraham 3:27) thus choosing Christ to be the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8; I Peter 1:19-20)

Then it was that “the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him.” (Abraham 3:28) Then it was that “a third part of the hosts of heaven” (D&C 29:36) were turned away from the father “because of their agency.” (D&C 29:36) Then it was there “there was war in heaven,” (Revelation 12:7) and those who were cast out became “the devil and his angels.” (D&C 29:37)

This is the story in outline form; and all the scripture bear the same testimony. Always it is the Father’s plan; always the Son is the obedient co-worker:

“I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross.” (3 Nephi 27:13-14)

“My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” (John 4:34)

“I can of mine own self do nothing: … I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (John 5:30)

“I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” (John 6:38)

“I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.” (John 8:28-29)

From this summary of events and from these principles, we learn some great lessons. One is that the pre-existent government was not a democracy any more than the Church government today is a democracy. It was a kingdom then; it is a kingdom now. The Lord always makes the laws, issues the decrees, and invites his children to obey and progress. Because of agency the pre-existent spirits were permitted the democratic principle of accepting or rejecting Christ’s appointment as Redeemer. So today: Men may accept or reject the saving truths of the gospel. But the rejecter always pays the penalty.

Further: By following the Father’s plan, Christ went from grace to grace until he received the fullness of the Father, (D&C 93:6-17) so that now, having worked out the atoning sacrifice, “and being made perfect,” he has become “the author of eternal salvation un to all them that obey him.” (Hebrews 5:9) Thus to him is ascribed glory and honor in all things, and those who seek for joint heirship with him must, in obedience, go from grace to grace as he did. The key to perfection and progression is: “Father, thy will be done.”

Optimism versus Pessimism

“The spirit of the gospel is optimistic; it trusts in God and looks on the bright side of things. The opposite or pessimistic spirit drags men down and away from God, looks on the dark side, murmurs, complains, and is slow to yield obedience. We should honor the Savior’s declaration to be of good cheer. (In Conference Report, Apr. 1917, 43)

Elder Orson F. Whitney

Elder Bruce R. McConkie: The Caravan Moves On!

Now, I have what every true disciple has. It is called the testimony of Jesus. In our day it includes the revealed knowledge that the earthly kingdom—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—will triumph. In this connection may I set before you this illustration:

The Church is like a great caravan—organized, prepared, following an appointed course, with its captains of tens and captains of hundreds all in place.

What does it matter if a few barking dogs snap at the heels of the weary travelers? Or that predators claim those few who fall by the way? The caravan moves on.

Is there a ravine to cross, a miry mud hole to pull through, a steep grade to climb? So be it. The oxen are strong and the teamsters wise. The caravan moves on.

Are there storms that rage along the way, floods that wash away the bridges, deserts to cross, and rivers to ford? Such is life in this fallen sphere. The caravan moves on.

Ahead is the celestial city, the eternal Zion of our God, where all who maintain their position in the caravan shall find food and drink and rest. Thank God that the caravan moves on!

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.

Bruce R. McConkie, “The Caravan Moves On,” Ensign, Nov 1984, 82

President Grant on Government ‘Bailouts’ and Welfare

In 1933, in the midst of the depression, the United States government under President Franklin D. Roosevelt enacted a series of sweeping measures popularly known as the New Deal. Although these programs were supported by most Latter-day Saints, Church leaders were concerned that some Saints could succumb to a “dole mentality.” President Grant sadly acknowledged:

“Many people have said, . . . ‘Well, others are getting some [government relief], why should not I get some of it?’

“I believe that there is a growing disposition among the people to try to get something from the government of the United States with little hope of ever paying it back. I think this is all wrong.” 4

4. In Conference Report, Oct. 1933, p. 5.

Children are Heirs to Exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom

The following excerpts from an article written for The Ensign by Elder Bruce R. McConkie is the clearest statement on the salvation of little children that I have found.

Bruce R. McConkie, “The Salvation of Little Children,” Ensign, Apr 1977, 3

Nowhere does the Easter message of resurrection ring so triumphant.

Among all the glorious gospel verities given of God to his people there is scarcely a doctrine so sweet, so soul satisfying, and so soul sanctifying, as the one which proclaims—Little children shall be saved. They are alive in Christ and shall have eternal life. For them the family unit will continue, and the fulness of exaltation is theirs. No blessing shall be withheld. They shall rise in immortal glory, grow to full maturity, and live forever in the highest heaven of the celestial kingdom.

What is a child and who are children?

A child is an adult spirit in a newly born body, a body capable of growing and maturing according to the providences of Him whose spirit children we all are. Children are the sons and daughters of God. They lived and dwelt with him for ages and eons before their mortal birth. They are adults before birth; they are adults at death.

Are children tainted with original sin?

Absolutely not. There is no such thing as original sin as such is defined in the creeds of Christendom. Such a concept denies the efficacy of the atonement. Our revelation says: “Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning”

Are all little children saved automatically in the celestial kingdom?

To this question the answer is a thunderous yes, which echoes and re-echoes from one end of heaven to the other. Jesus taught it to his disciples. Mormon said it over and over again. Many of the prophets have spoken about it, and it is implicit in the whole plan of salvation. If it were not so the redemption would not be infinite in its application. And so, as we would expect, Joseph Smith’s Vision of the Celestial Kingdom contains this statement: “And I also beheld that all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven.” (D&C 137:10)

Will they have eternal life?

Eternal life is life in the highest heaven of the celestial world; it is exaltation; it is the name of the kind of life God lives. It consists of a continuation of the family unit in eternity. Joseph Smith taught, “Children will be enthroned in the presence of God and the Lamb; … they will there enjoy the fulness of that light, glory, and intelligence, which is prepared in the celestial kingdom.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 200.).

Will children be married and live in the family unit?

Certainly. There can be no question about this. If they gain salvation, which is eternal life, which is exaltation, it means that they are married and live in the family unit.

Why do some children die and others live? Are those who die better off than those who remain in mortality?

President Joseph Fielding Smith once told me that we must assume that the Lord knows and arranges beforehand who shall be taken in infancy and who shall remain on earth to undergo whatever tests are needed in their cases. This accords with Joseph Smith’s statement: “The Lord takes many away, even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on earth.” (Teachings, pp. 196–97.)

Will children ever be tested?

Absolutely not!  “Satan cannot tempt little children in this life, nor in the spirit world, nor after their resurrection. Little children who die before reaching the years of accountability will not be tempted.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:56–57.) Such is the emphatic language of President Joseph Fielding Smith.

What is the age of accountability?

In our revelation the Lord says, “They cannot sin, for power is not given unto Satan to tempt little children, until they begin to become accountable before me.” (D&C 29:47.) There comes a time, however, when accountability is real and actual and sin is attributed in the lives of those who develop normally. It is eight years of age, the age of baptism. (D&C 68:27.)

What about the mentally deficient?

It is with them as it is with little children. They never arrive at the years of accountability and are considered as though they were little children.

When and with what stature will children be resurrected?

Because they will receive a celestial inheritance, they will come forth in the first resurrection, President Joseph F. Smith said: “Joseph Smith taught the doctrine that the infant child that was laid away in death would come up in the resurrection as a child; and, pointing to the mother of a lifeless child, he said to her: ‘You will have the joy, the pleasure, and satisfaction of nurturing this child, after its resurrection, until it reaches the full stature of its spirit.’

What, then, of this glorious doctrine concerning the salvation of children?

Truly it is one of the sweetest and most soul-satisfying doctrines of the gospel!