My roommates and I were having a conversation last night about the doctrine of "making one's calling and election sure." Our questions were: (a) if someone who had had their calling and election made sure could still fall; and (b) if this is an ordinance that is to be performed for us all before we enter into the celestial kingdom. You being such a smart guy I figured you would have and answer or at least be able to point us in the right direction to find out.
Smart guy? We'll see about that ...
This is probably the most sacred ordinance a couple can receive in this life (perhaps even in the next) and those who are so sealed up unto eternal life (or sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise) will not comment about it in any circumstance. That is why there are no "sealing preparation classes" in our wards. A couple receives the confirmation of their calling and election through ordinances performed under the direction of the president of the Church, who holds the keys of the sealing power.
The prophet Joseph Smith taught the following: "The more sure word of prophecy means a man's knowing that he is sealed up unto eternal life, by revelation and the spirit of prophecy, through the power of the Holy Priesthood. It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance." (D&C 131:5-6)
The statement "impossible ... to be saved in ignorance" has been used
in connection with learning, education, etc. However, although that
idea is correct, in that way the verse is taken out of context. The
prophet Joseph Smith was really referring to the confirmation of one's
calling and election, and suggesting that no one will be admitted into
the celestial kingdom without knowing beforehand that he or she has a place
reserved for them in that kingdom. So, in response to your question,
we all need to receive this ordinance before being admitted into the presence
of the Lord.
Now, the next question. According to the revelation recorded in D&C 132, it is possible for a person thus sealed to fall away from the truth, in which case the scenarios explained in the following verses become effective: (Note that in these verses the confirmation of a couple's calling and election is referred to as "being sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise"):
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man marry a wife according to my word, and they are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, according to mine appointment, and he or she shall commit any sin or transgression of the new and everlasting covenant whatever, and all manner of blasphemies, and if they commit no murder wherein they shed innocent blood, yet they shall come forth in the first resurrection, and enter into their exaltation; but they shall be destroyed in the flesh, and shall be delivered unto the buffetings of Satan unto the day of redemption, saith the Lord God." (D&C 132:26)
"And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife, and make a covenant with her for time and for all eternity, if that covenant is not by me or by my word, which is my law, and is not sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, through him whom I have anointed and appointed unto this power, then it is not valid neither of force when they are out of the world, because they are not joined by me, saith the Lord, neither by my word; when they are out of the world it cannot be received there, because the angels and the gods are appointed there, by whom they cannot pass; they cannot, therefore, inherit my glory; for my house is a house of order, saith the Lord God." (D&C 132:18)
"The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which shall not be forgiven in the world nor out of the world, is in that ye commit murder wherein ye shed innocent blood, and assent unto my death, after ye have received my new and everlasting covenant, saith the Lord God; and he that abideth not this law can in nowise enter into my glory, but shall be damned, saith the Lord." (D&C 132:27)
Good questions. Later in the semester we will discuss a little bit more about this doctrine in class. Stay tuned.
Since I posted this response in July 2000, several people have sent me follow-up questions about this doctrine. I decided to add the following text to my response:
Regarding the confirmation of one's calling and election, we find that Peter (2 Peter chapter 1) and Nephi (2 Nephi 31:18-21) clearly showed the steps to obtain that blessing. All one needs to do to obtain this blessing is to be faithful. If a person endures to the end, he/she will receive eternal life, and that achievement will be communicated to the person--whether in this mortal stage or in the next.
If you allow me to speak about myself, I would love to obtain this blessing in this life. However, on my daily activities I rarely turn my thoughts to the doctrinal point itself. I am more concerned with questions such as: Am I a good and loving husband and father? Am I faithful in my priesthood duties (home teaching, callings, etc.)? Am I an honest person, a dependable employee, a good friend to others? According to Peter, these virtues--and not the raw amount of gospel knowledge I acquire--will be the primary consideration to determine whether or not I will be worthy of that eternal goal.
So, I just focus on striving to live a good life every day, relying on the power of Christ's atonement to make up for my shortcomings. And as long as I do so throughout my life I know without a doubt that that God who created us will also remember me in his eternal kingdom.
Br. Marcus Martins
This essay is published as a support for and an extension of classroom discussion and in no way represents an official statement from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or its General Authorities. Dr. Marcus H. Martins assumes full responsibility for the opinions, views, and interpretations contained herein. For more information contact me at: MartinsM@byuh.edu