Boundless Space and the Eternity of Matter Explained

By Charles W. Penrose

The Priesthood had no beginning, and will never have an end.  As we are told in the scripture – it is “without father or mother, without beginning of days or end of years;”  it always existed.  The individual, the organized person, may have had a beginning, but that spirit of which and by which they were organized never had a beginning.

There never was a first world or man; there will never be a last.  We cannot grasp that in its fulness, but we can understand a little of it by comparing it with other things.  For instance, we will take space.  This tabernacle contains so much space, bounded by the walls of the building; but go outside of these walls and space is there.  Go to the farthest bounds of this Territory, space is there.  Go to the ends of the earth, if you can find them, and there is space beyond.  Mount upwards to the stars; go to the sun, pass above the sun to the two worlds that govern it, that we read about in the Book of Abraham, go even unto Kolob, the nearest to the throne of God, and there is just as much space beyond as that which you have left.  There is no outside to space – no beginning, no end.

Thus there is boundless space, and we cannot fully comprehend it, yet we must admit that it exists without limit.  So travel where we will, there we find space, and also inexhaustible material.  And the elements, whether they be spiritual or what we call natural – they never had a beginning – the primal particles never had a beginning.  They have been organized in different shapes; the organism had a beginning; but the elements or atoms of which it is composed never had.  You may burn this book, but every atom of which the book was composed, every particle of substance that entered into its composition, still exists; they are indestructible.  When you go right down to the primary elements, they never had a beginning, they will never end.  For in their primal condition they are not “created”.  They did not come from nothing; they were organized into different forms, but the elementary parts of matter as well as of spirit, using ordinary terms, never had a beginning, and never will have an end.

Now, here are some things you can understand to some extent, that are beginning-less and endless.  It is the same with duration.  Duration never had a beginning, and it will never have an end.  We measure portions of time, but time itself cannot be counted.  Go back as far as we can think, and there was just as much time or duration before that period as since, and think as much as we can down the stream of time there is just as much ahead.  There is no limit to duration, no beginning, no end.  Thus there are boundless space, an infinity of substance, and endless duration.  The elements of that eternal spirit which exists in and through and round about all things, and is the law by which all things are governed, never had a beginning and will never have an end.  There was no beginning and there will be no end to its operations.  There is no beginning to the works of God, and there will be no end.  Therefore there was never a first world or being, neither will there be a last one.

[Elder Charles W. Penrose, Journal of Discourses, Volume 26, page 27-28]

[Discourse delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, November 16, 1884]

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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.”

The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is Figurative

As to the Fall itself we are told that the Lord planted “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” in the midst of the garden. (Moses 3:9.) To Adam and Eve the command came: “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Moses 3:16–17.) Again the account is speaking figuratively. What is meant by partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is that our first parents complied with whatever laws were involved so that their bodies would change from their state of paradisiacal immortality to a state of natural mortality.

(Bruce R. McConkie, Ensign, June, 1982)