Our tradition of three degrees of glory has placed a significant chip on our shoulder, as Mormons, …producing in us some pride when talking about kingdoms of terrestrial/ telestial/ and celestial. But that chip is soon crushed, when we come to learn that in the highest kingdom, God’s kingdom, there are seven heavens. And Joseph Smith claimed to have been “…caught up to the seventh heaven.” Perhaps, in a state of humility, we might remove that chip, to seek further light and truth, by conversing with the Lord through the veil, to once and for all become a redeemed people (Zion).
Complete: The popular, and yet highly discouraging scripture, states that salvation requires us all to “Be ye therefore perfect!” Our first mistake is to read that passage with modern eyes, where “perfect” is equated to “without flaw.” That was not the intention of the author. The word “perfect” is a transliteration (translated into a different language simply by sound alone). The word it was transliterated from came from the Latin word “perficio.” Broken into parts, per: through or thoroughly through, and facio (fa-key-o): to do, or to make. Put both parts together, and “perficio” means: “to do thoroughly,” or “to make complete.” A definition far from our current understanding of “perfect,” being “without mistakes,” or “flawless.” The Latin Bible came from the Greek translation. The Greek word, originally used, was “teleos,” meaning the same as “perficio,” which means “to come to an end,” or “be complete.”
Ascension: So now that I’ve established that “Be ye therefore perfect,” really meant to come across as “Be ye therefore complete,” what does it mean to be complete? It means to Ascend. There are multiple symbols of ascension, or being complete, pointing to the end of progression. Those who’ve become complete have followed the path of the prototype of a saved man, Christ. The process of ascension requires a guide, none other than Christ Himself. Christ describes himself as “The Way.” But, not knowing what Nephi meant by “The Way,” the Nephites wondered in their hearts what happens after entering the way? (2 Nephi 32:1). Nephi sadly realizes that his people missed the point of the lesson on ascension he just taught.
The most commonly known imagery of the process of ascension is Jacob’s ladder (with seven rungs). Another is the image of Mount Zion, or the mountain of the Lord, that one must climb, or ascend, to have a part in Zion. In the Book of Revelation, the seven cities are located at gradually higher and higher elevations, again indicating an ascension.
The number (7) was itself a symbol of ascension and completion. Forgiving “seven times seventy,” wasn’t a cue to forgive a count of 490 times, but rather to forgive completely. When John the beloved teaches of Christ’s return, Christ is depicted as coming out of seven oil lamps, where oil is light, and seven is complete, which our savior certainly is (complete). (Rev 1:12). The seven day creation, points to a completed creation: when the the Lord fills the entire earth with light, the still awaited burning of the earth (which makes this creation incomplete). And that completed creation is an individual creation, as the Lord fills you with his light completely, also called “The Fullness.” This points to the necessity for your individual ascension, into the the heavens. This is the instruction being conveyed in our scriptures.
Pattern of Ascension Instructed: Many have claimed that whatever a prophet says is scripture, but this is simply not true. Scriptures are the tool used by Christ to instruct man to make an ascension into the heavens. They aren’t random attributes of improvement. They are direct instructions to make Kings and Queens, Priests and Priestesses, and gods and goddesses. No man can produce that, only God. And that’s what makes scripture, scripture!
Joseph Smith told the saints that they must make their ascension, their completion, or their calling and election sure. It was by obtaining this more sure word of prophecy, that they were sealed in the heavens, that it became an anchor to the soul. Through the thunder, lightning, earthquakes, and war, this knowledge would support the soul in every hour of trial, trouble, and tribulation (Paraphrasing TPJS Pg. 298). Someone with an ascension fears no man, nor any circumstance.
The scriptures offer instructions to those with eyes that can see, and ears that can hear the voice of the Lord, teaching through ancient prophets. Although it isn’t a checklist, the more subtle indicators of ascension, completion, and calling and election made sure, is hidden in lists of seven. The beatitudes, for instance, from the sermon on the mount weren’t random attributes, but a coded instruction for an individual ascension. Consider the list as a progression process of an individual, accumulating and aggregating (adding upon) each attribute in order:
- Poor in Spirit
- Those who Mourn
- The Meek
- Those who Hunger and Thirst after Righteousness
- The Merciful
- Pure in Heart
- The Peace Makers
In our modern revelation, Joseph Smith describes the building of God’s kingdom as “a house of God” (D&C 88:119). Consider the seven building blocks he uses to describe the making of the house of God. This also was intended to point us to ascension:
- A House of Prayer
- A House of Fasting
- A House of Faith
- A House of Learning
- A House of Glory
- A House of Order
- A House of God
All of these lists of seven point to obtaining an ascension, making a man perfect or complete, and receiving a more sure word of prophecy with your calling and election made sure. It all points to the seven heavens in the Celestial Kingdom of God.
Seven Heavens: Paul speaks of three heavens. Joseph Smith taught three degrees of glory as one of the stars, one of the moon, and one of the sun. But very few knew that Joseph Smith claimed to have visited the seventh heaven. He said of Paul’s experience, “Paul said he knew a man who was caught up to the third heaven. But,” [said Smith], “I know a man who was caught up to the seventh heaven.” He was speaking of himself.
What is this seven heavens? It was known to the ancient Egyptians, Hebrew, and Christians, but why are we so unfamiliar with this in our day of modern prophets? Because we have become filled with traditions of unbelief, that we forfeit the ascension, in exchange for a salvation based on obedience to men, to the laws of the flesh, rather than to the laws of heaven, and the Kingdom of God.
Conclusion: The word “Cosmos” originally meant, not the universe, but the harmonious order of God’s kingdom in the seven heavens. This referred to the seven heavens of the celestial glory. Once restored to the pattern of ascension, any person could read John’s Book of Revelation, Isaiah’s prophecies, and Nephi’s visions …plainly. Joseph Smith said that the Book of Revelation was the plainest book ever written. Nephi exclaims, after quoting Isaiah, that his words were plain, as plain as word can be (2 Nephi 32:7). And Nephi’s vision, of the condescension of Christ, although a key element to the knowledge of the pattern of ascension, goes missed as merely a future prophesy of Christ’s coming to earth.
Our pride as Mormons is stopping our progression, by limiting our understanding to foolish traditions of unbelief, that we fail to see an even bigger picture being offered in the “cosmos” or the seven heavens of the celestial kingdom. We have put our trust in the arm of flesh for so long, that we have cast aside developing the skill of seeing patterns of ascension, in exchange for the interpretations of foolish and blind guides (Helaman 13:29). In our ignorance we have developed a curriculum of being good, while remaining incomplete. This is a lukewarm condition, ready to be spat out by God.
“Awake and Arise” is the invitation being offered.
- To Awake is to open your eyes to see the patterns of ascension being instructed in the scriptures.
- To Arise is to follow those instructions and to literally Ascend through the seven heavens of the celestial Kingdom of God.
Feast upon the words of Christ, they tell you all things what you should do. It is through that feasting that we come to understand what it is we do, once we have entered in by the way. We must not be confused about this, as were the Nephites of old. We can become angels, and speak with the tongue of angels, which is to speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, to speak the words of Christ. (2 Nephi 32). That is how we become complete, become perficio, that is what it means to “Be ye therefore perfect!”