When The Lord Jesus appeared to the Nephites gathered at Bountiful He declared to them who He was and what He had done. He said "I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning." (3Nephi 11: 11) Jesus claimed that by "suffering" the will of the Father in all things from the beginning He had "glorified the Father in taking upon (Him) the sins of the world." All that Jesus did in the course of fulfilling His role and responsibilities as the Son of God and the Redeemer of mankind was given to Him by the Father. It was always, in every instance, the will of the Father that guided the conduct of the Son. Jesus did not come to His mortal existence to exercise His own agency in life's situations according to His own will and desires. His will, in every instance, was subjected and subordinated to the will of the Father. He said, "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." (John 6: 38)
Doing the will of the Father is what qualified Jesus to be the Redeemer of the world. He found favor with the Father because He was willing to put away His own wishes and desires. There was nothing in the life and conduct of Jesus that was ever self serving or selfish. The same Master that asks us to "lose our life" in order that we may "find it," (Matt. 10: 39) lost His own life first. The "losing" of His own life happened long before cruel Roman spikes were driven through His flesh and his mortal body became subject to death on the cross. His life was literally given away each and every day of His existence. He forfeited His life and His will in order that the will of the Father instead could be done. To us, after the demonstration of His own perfect example He taught:
He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. (John 12: 25)
We too, like Him, are expected to lose our own will and our own life in favor of the will of the Father. In another setting the Lord taught:
“Not every one that saith unto me,Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 7: 21)
Doing the will of the Father is the only mechanism by which a person will ever enter into the kingdom of heaven. Just as the Son did the will of the Father, we too must do the will of the Father in like manner.
We go through our mortal days tending each day to our mortal wishes and desires. All the while we may adopt "forms of godliness" that salve our conscience about our relationship with God and eternity. There may however be no power whatsoever (JS-H 1:19 and 2Timothy 3: 1-7) in those "forms of godliness" we adopt that could ever lead to our redemption and eternal life. The Lord continued:
“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matt. 7: 22-23)
Simply crying "Lord, Lord" while reciting all of our wonderful mortal works done in His name (Matt. 7: 21-23) will never have power to save any person. The forms of godliness adopted by men may give them power to prophesy in the name of The Lord, to cast out devils in the name of The Lord, and to do many other wonderful works, all ostensibly done in the name of The Lord. And though there may be power given to men to do many wonderful works in His name, (it does indeed appear from the words of The Lord there is such power given to men) (Matt. 7: 21-23) the power to be redeemed by the Lord consists in something different and more than the forms of godliness adopted by men in the name of religion including wonderful works done in His name. In other words, the forms of godliness men adopt, provide no evidence of men's redemption in the kingdom of heaven even though they may experience many wonderful manifestations of prophecy, casting out devils, and many other "wonderful works" in their mortal lives.
Any wonderful work done in the name of the Lord such as prophecy, casting out devils, healing the sick, being healed, and a host of other "wonderful works" though intrinsically good, may, if received correctly, lead to increased faith, however, they do not of themselves have power to save. Nor are “many wonderful works” being present in a person’s life necessarily evidence of a person’s being saved in the kingdom of heaven. That is why The Lord will declare to many who have done many wonderful works in His name, "I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matt. 7: 23)
The name of the Lord is the name by which men are to be redeemed. (D&C 18: 23-25) The use of that name for any other purpose, although it may result in many wonderful works that can increase the faith of men, will not, in fact cannot provide a way into the kingdom of heaven for anyone. There is only one being in all of existence that has the right and the power to use that redeeming name and all the power it possesses to allow a person to enter into the kingdom of heaven. The one and only being who possesses the right and the ability to use the power of the name of Jesus Christ to declare redemption for any person is the holy one of Israel Himself. (2Nephi 9: 41) Unless, and until the Holy One of Israel makes a declaration of redemption for any person in His own name, that person does not possess the right to enter into the kingdom of heaven regardless of what earthly ordinances, or other wonderful works that individual may have received or performed while in mortality. That is why The Lord will declare to many who cry unto Him Lord! Lord! - "I never knew you: depart from me..." (Matt. 7: 23)
The test of having done the will of the Father or not in ones mortal life will not be satisfied by a list and recitation of many wonderful works done in the name of the Son. Instead, one will know the result of the test of having done the will of the Father or not by the declaration of the Lord as to whether He “knew you” or not. (Matt. 7: 23) A religion that stops at wonderful works and many wonderful things done in the name of The Lord stops short of allowing its practitioners from entering into the kingdom of heaven.
Among the forms of godliness that lack power to save souls, may be included an altered, reduced, and dwindled restored gospel with ordinances and practices that were originally designed to lead God's children back to His presence in a true manner that would teach them how to do the will of the Father and thereby be saved in the kingdom of heaven. Many “saints” have begun to believe the ordinances, rites, and practices of the restored gospel themselves have power to save in the kingdom of heaven. A dutiful life of church attendance, temple attendance, missions served, together with all the trappings and outward appearances of "many wonderful works" in an active LDS lifestyle will undoubtedly lead many to declare "Lord, Lord" in that day. The practice of this particular form of godliness claims one need only stay squarely in the mainstream of the church, following the brethren diligently throughout your life and eventually, in the end, you will be exalted in the kingdom of heaven. Truth declares, one cannot ever be entrenched enough in the mainstream of the church and one cannot ever be loyal enough to the leaders of an earthly institution to be assured salvation in the kingdom of heaven simply because there is absolutely no power to save in either of those "forms" of godliness. This philosophy of men is mingled with just enough scripture to lead to the effective destruction of many of God’s latter day children. No people were more devoted to outward religious practices, rites, rituals, and misplaced devotion to their leaders than were the Jews of Jesus’ mortal day. Jesus scorned them for their piety and condemned the belief that the kingdom of heaven could be attained by or through any such pious "wonderful works."
It will only be those, according to the words of the Lord, that "do the will of the Father," that will ultimately enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 7: 21) So we come full circle to the principle of "doing the will of the Father." Some may think, according to their particular accepted form of godliness, that "doing the will of the Father" is tantamount to all of the "many wonderful works" that they will vainly cite at the feet of the Savior as they cry Lord! Lord! In fact, the will of the Father is something very specific. Joseph Smith the prophet of the restoration, along with The Lord Jesus, taught the very specific nature of "the will of the Father" and the need for every person to do "it" in order to receive redemption from the Fall. Doing the will of the Father is the one and only way to enter into the kingdom of heaven. What then is "the will of the Father?" Can you answer that question? It is only one specific thing - not many. The Lord Jesus provides a clue about those who have done the will of the Father versus those who have not done the will of the Father by His declaration to those that are commanded to depart from Him. He professes to them, - “I never knew you.” (Matt. 7: 23)
Doing the will of the Father is the key to opening the door to the kingdom of heaven for every person. Therefore knowing what the will of the Father “is” becomes critically important. In the next post we will explore the meaning of the will of the Father.