1 Nephi 10
17 And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he received by faith on the Son of God–and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come–I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.
18 For he is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him.
19 For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.
20 Therefore remember, O man, for all thy doings thou shalt be brought into judgment.
21 Wherefore, if ye have sought to do wickedly in the days of your probation, then ye are found unclean before the judgment-seat of God; and no unclean thing can dwell with God; wherefore, ye must be cast off forever.
22 And the Holy Ghost giveth authority that I should speak these things, and deny them not.
1 Nephi 11
1 For it came to pass after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot.
2 And the Spirit said unto me: Behold, what desirest thou?
If I was alone with the Spirit, and the Spirit asked me, “What desirest thou?” – What would be my answer? I know Nephi wanted to know and see the things his father saw. I’m certainly no Nephi, and it surprises me that what I desire the most in my life right now isn’t so much knowledge of things that are to come. If I ask myself, deep down, what I truly desire, the answer is an easy one. I desire to be clean. I desire to have my garments washed in the blood of the Savior. That’s continually my truest desire.
Now, I’ve been a good boy in life. Even before I joined the church, I lived the word of wisdom without even knowing what it was. I was lucky – like Nephi, I was born of goodly parents. I was taught to behave myself, do well in school, even to fear the Lord, (my parents are practicing Christians of another denomination). But yet I am a sinner. I feel like Nephi later in life when he says, “O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities. I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me” (2 Nephi 4:17-18). It is essentially what the Savior was saying to Peter in John 13:10 when He says, “and ye are clean, but not all.”
Truman Madsen gives his opinion that the thing of most worth to the Prophet Joseph Smith up to the time of the Kirtland Temple Dedication was the declaration that, “(his) sins are forgiven (him); (he) is clean before me…(D&C 110:5).
One of my favorite stories is the story of the prophet Joseph F. Smith: I dreamed [one night] that I was on a journey, and I was impressed that I ought to
hurry—hurry with all my might, for fear I might be too late. I rushed on my way as fast as I possibly could, and I was only conscious of having just a little bundle, a handkerchief with a small bundle wrapped in it. I did not realize … what it was, when I was hurrying as fast as I could; but finally I came to a wonderful mansion.… I thought I knew that was my destination. As I passed towards it, as fast as I could, I saw a notice [which read B-A-T-H], ‘Bath.’ I turned aside quickly and went into the bath and washed myself clean. I opened up this little bundle that I had, and there was [some] white, clean [clothing], a
thing I had not seen for a long time, because the people I was with did not think very much of making things exceedingly clean. But my [clothing was] clean, and I put [it] on. Then I rushed to what appeared to be a great opening, or door. I knocked and the door opened, and the man who stood there was the Prophet Joseph Smith. He looked at me a little reprovingly, and the first words he said:
‘Joseph, you are late.’ Yet I took confidence and [replied]: “‘Yes, but I am clean—I am clean!’
So what do I want more right now? To know the mysteries of Godliness, or the knowledge that I am clean? I want both. But I want to be clean more. That is my heart’s truest desire. When we are clean, and do all we can do to receive the Gospel of Salvation, then we want to become more and more like the Savior. At this point the Gospel of Exaltation becomes a blessing to us in helping us to live the Gospel of Salvation. Being truly clean will also allow us a glimpse into eternity, where we can see the fruits of the Gospel of Exaltation – the higher blessings of the Temple.
It is important to see how both arches or both priesthoods work together. The lesser helping us obtain the greater, and the greater reminding us of the absolute necessity of the lesser. As we go through the Temple, this is symbolized in many marvelous ways – I would encourage everyone to ponder these things the next time you go.
Look also at the symbolism between water and fire, which are used many times in the scriptures, (and as I see Mr. Reed put on his arches). Among many other things, water is symbolic of cleansing – being clean. And among many other things, fire is symbolic of the Spirit. But another significant thing to remember is that just as water cleanses, fire is the greater cleanser. Fire purifies. Fire makes us Holy and able to dwell in God’s presence. So what do I need to be clean? I need both, in the correct order. Just as the Savior said to Nicodemus, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5), we too must be “born again.” And we need to keep adding oil to the lamp, (oil is another great symbol for the spirit!), until that great and marvelous day.
So as the Spirit said to Nephi, “What desirest thou?” I desire to be clean, every whit. I desire my whole soul to be cleansed in the blood of the Lamb.
I designed those arches very carefully. My intention was to convey not water and fire, but a drop of blood and a crown. But I left them basic enough as forms so that they could have to power to deliver multiple concepts. You could also see oil and light in there as well, as many other ideas.
That’s beautiful! I never even thought of that. Sorry, I didn’t mean to take away from your symbolism. But wow, that adds new depth and meaning to my understanding…
Also, as I was reading through the story of Joseph F. Smith again, I noticed that what he is describing is the temple experience. Not sure how I missed that before…I’m kinda slow sometimes : )