2 The Church in its Spiritual Aspect

Worship is a very personal. Isn't it surprising that places of worship have been, are, and probably will be recognized as the most basic place for people to gather? In fact this social aspect is probably determines where they are built, how they are designed, and how they are maintained. Most are an asset to the community around them and those that attend there are considered socially acceptable within the community. In smaller communities and even in city neighborhoods, they are the preferred place for organizations of many types to meet. That these varied types of organizations meet there tends to add to their community status. Political gatherings attain almost a holy status when they are allowed the use of such venues and elections gain social creditability when the church is the polling place. I don't pretend to profess if this is good our bad; I just know that it is. I am concerned though, that for a vast majority of the world, the need for a church ends there. Have we allowed the word church become less that it should be? Does God intend it to be more?

The High Priest Alma of the Book of Mormon defined God's Church in a very different way.  

Mosiah 11:128-130 
11:128 And he that will hear my voice, shall be my sheep; and him shall ye receive into the church; and him will I also receive.
11:129 For behold, this is my church: whosoever is baptized, shall be baptized unto repentance.
11:130 And whosoever ye receive, shall believe in my name; and him will I freely forgive:

Without saying the word Church, God through Moses echoed the words of Alma.

Leviticus 26:9-12 
26:9 For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.
26:10 And ye shall eat old store and bring forth the old because of the new.
26:11 And I will set my tabernacle among you; and my soul shall not abhor you;
26:12 And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.

God and man together is the ideal born within the word "church". In its temporal form it spoke to man of his need to join God in a place away from the world. By this concept, man allowed a holy gathering of people to become a building. Is this wrong? No, that concept is not wrong, but it is insufficient. The church is more than a building. King David sought to build a temple in Jerusalem where God and man could meet together. Because of sin in his life God denied David this honor. Solomon was given this task and in the process questioned the ability of a building to fulfill man's need to be with God. Was the Church really a building or was it a relationship that we as yet, don't fully understand?  

2 Chronicles 6:18 But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!

The subject of "God with man" as a building was approached by the High Priest Alma when faced with the pride of the people in the church of his time. 

Alma 16:124-131      
16:124 Now as Alma was teaching and speaking unto the people upon the hill Onidah, there came a great multitude unto him, who were those of whom we have been speaking, who were poor in heart, because of their poverty as to the things of the world.
16:125 And they came unto Alma; and the one who was the foremost among them, said unto him, Behold, what shall these my brethren do, for they are despised of all men, because of their poverty; yea, and more especially by our priests;
16:126 For they have cast us out of our synagogues, which we have labored abundantly to build, with our own hands; and they have cast us out because of our exceeding poverty, and we have no place to worship our God; and behold, what shall we do?
16:127 And now when Alma heard this, he turned him about, his face immediately towards him, and he beheld, with great joy; for he beheld that their afflictions had truly humbled them, and that they were in a preparation to hear the word;
16:128 Therefore he did say no more to the other multitude, but he stretched forth his hand, and cried unto those whom he beheld, who were truly penitent, and said unto them, I behold that ye are lowly in heart; and if so, blessed are ye.
16:129 Behold thy brother hath said, What shall we do? for we are cast out of our synagogues, that we cannot worship our God.
16:130 Behold, I say unto you, Do ye suppose that ye can not worship God, save it be in your synagogues only?
16:131 And moreover, I would ask, Do ye suppose that ye must not worship God only once in a week?

Ask yourself these same questions and discover if we as a people have accepted this God limiting concept. Have we allowed ourselves to let the word church become no more than a building, when in truth it is more?

3 Nephi 12:19-20 
12:19 Therefore, whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name; therefore ye shall call the church in my name; and ye shall call upon the Father in my name, that he will bless the church for my sake; and how be it my church, save it be called in my name?
12:20 For if a church be called in Moses' name, then it be Moses' church; or if it be called in the name of a man, then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name, then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel.

I am convinced that God's Church is a people gathered for the holy purpose of God. I believe that the lack of this understanding limits our ability to perform our covenant labor. I sought out proof for that belief and will draw on the testimonies within the Revelations of John and the Proverbs of Solomon to open our hearts to this endowing concept of man together with God.

We are already aware that the writing of Proverbs used the woman to symbolize the circumstances within life that entice us to grow and nurture us that we have both the strength and understanding to grow. Some direct us to grow in virtue toward God; others tempt us to grow in rebellion against God.

Proverbs 7:4-5 
7:4 Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman;
7:5 That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.

One woman directs growth in understanding truth and righteousness. One does not. I contend that one is the Church of God the other is not. Both face us with a decision and seek from us loyalty to their doctrines. We seek to identify that church/woman entity that causes us to be together with God. This symbolism of the woman as a directing force within our lives is one common to all parts of the scriptures. In the Revelations of John, I believe we will find represented the epitome of this church/woman entity we seek. 

Revelations 12:1 And there appeared a great sign in heaven, in the likeness of things on the earth; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.

As we seek understanding we must expand the meanings in the various aspects of the woman as she appeared to John. 

Revelations12:1 And there appeared a great sign in heaven, in the likeness of things on the earth: 

This was a vision of God because it appeared in the heavens, and like all things from God, it starts with man looking up-

Genesis 9:22 And this is mine everlasting covenant, that when thy posterity shall embrace the truth, and look upward, then shall Zion look downward, and all the heavens shall shake with 

- and it finds its fullness with a statement of the relationship between God, man, and God's purpose for man. That purpose was revealed to us in Christ's so called Sermon on the Mount. He clarified for us what the fellowship between God and man was supposed to accomplish.

Matthew 6:9-11 
6:9 Therefore after this manner shall ye pray, saying,
6:10 Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. (We are God's children)
6:11 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is done in heaven. (We purpose to return God's Kingdom to Earth.)

This concept of God and man together given to us is a much-needed aspect within our relationship with God through prayer. That which joins God and us together is purpose. God seeks for all mankind to choose the righteousness, purity, and trust of He who dwelt in their hearts in Eden. We seek for the restoration of all things as in the beginning, when all creation lived enjoying the fullest measure of their God given design. The true concept of God and man together begins in their shared purpose.

Revelations 12:1 And there appeared a great sign in heaven, in the likeness of things on the earth; a woman clothed with the sun:

In John's world, the clothes a person wore signified both the social standing of a person and their purpose within the community. The difference between a merchant and a priest could be determined at a distance by the garments they wore. If he wore nothing more that a cloth around the hips, he was probably a slave. If she wore coverings from head to toe and a mask across her face, she was probably a young unmarried woman out for a day of shopping. The clothes they wore bore evidence of both their status in society and their purpose. In our case, the woman wears the sun. 

DC 85:2a-3a 
85:2a This Comforter is the promise which I give unto you of eternal life, even the glory of the celestial kingdom; which glory is that of the church of the Firstborn, even of God, the holiest of all, through Jesus Christ, his Son;
85:2b he that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth, which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ.
85:2c As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made.
85:2d As also he is in the moon, and is the light of the moon, and the power thereof by which it was made.
85:2e As also the light of the stars, and the power thereof by which they were made.
85:2f And the earth also, and the power thereof, even the earth upon which you stand.
85:3a And the light which now shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings; which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God, to fill the immensity of space.

She shines in this world by the presence of the Holy Spirit of God. By covenant with God, She gained that very Spirit, and by laboring within that covenant, She grows in it, is clothed by it, and soon the very nature of this purpose will define Her. She will stand before the world as a testimony of God working in the world of man. 

Revelations 12:1 And there appeared a great sign in heaven, in the likeness of things on the earth; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet:

To understand this added clause (and the moon under her feet) we must first consider the nature of the moon in our temporal world. The moon shines, but in and of itself it has no ability to produce light. Its light is no more than a reflection of the sun when the sun is not there. 

DC 83:7f-7i 
83:7f and the whole world lieth in sin, and groaneth under the darkness and under the bondage of sin:
83:7g and by this you may know they are under the bondage of sin, because they come not unto me; for whoso cometh not unto me is under the bondage of sin;
83:7h and whoso receiveth not my voice is not acquainted with my voice, and is not of me;
83:7i and by this you may know the righteous from the wicked, and that the whole world groaneth under sin and darkness even now.

Man without covenant cannot possess nor understand the true light of God. Because of sin the world lays in darkness. God gave us Jesus Christ and in Him the true light of God was brought to the earth in the form of the Gospel. It is but a reflection of the fullness but it opens the door that the fullness by covenant, might be gained. 
DC 83:7b-7f 
83:7b For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ;
83:7c and the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit;
83:7d and everyone that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit, cometh unto God, even the Father;
83:7e and the Father teacheth him of the covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you, which is confirmed upon you for your sakes, and not for your sakes only, but for the sake of the whole world:
83:7f and the whole world lieth in sin, and groaneth under the darkness and under the bondage of sin:

It is the reflected light of the truth of God that Christ brought to this earth. In the fourth chapter of Luke, Christ announced His ministry to the people. In this He also announced to the world, our covenant labor.

Luke 4:17-19
4:17 And there was delivered unto him, the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and the recovering of sight to the blind; to set at liberty them that are bruised;
4:19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

The joining together of God and man is defined by purpose and that purpose is to minister the Gospel of Salvation to all mankind. The reflected light of God or the Gospel of the Kingdom is the foundation on which the woman stands, but there is one more item of clothing that defines her as the Church. 

Revelations 12:1 And there appeared a great sign in heaven, in the likeness of things on the earth; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: 

First consider how much of our own world is governed by and organized according to the number 12. Our day is divided into 2 periods consisting of 12 hours each. Each hour is 60 minutes and each minute is 60 seconds. Both are a multiple of 12. Our year is divided into 12 months. The English measurement of a foot is divided into 12 inches. Agriculture products such as eggs and bread are sold by the dozen with 12 dozen representing a gross. In music there are twelve tones (counting sharps and flats) in a musical octave. In art theory the color wheel is made up of 12 colors (3 primary colors (red, yellow, blue), 3 secondary colors (orange, green, and purple) and 6 intermediate colors (chartreuse, spring green, cyan, azure, magenta and rose). In America, 12 jurors decide legal conflicts. In our temporal lives the number 12 is recognized as having the ability set a standard and create organization. 

Now let us consider the number 12 and when it is used in the scriptures. Jacob had twelve sons whose decedents later represented the twelve tribes of Israel. In Egypt anything produced by their property, whether it was the calf of a cow or corn grown in their field, became a possession of the property owner. Thusly, as slaves in Egypt, the Hebrew children were organized as property according to which son of Jacob they descended from. After 400 years of slavery, the Hebrews recognized this method of organization as right, proper, and acceptable. At the end of the 40 years in the wilderness the same method of organization was used to determine the division of the Promised Land among God's children. 

Joshua 14:1 And these are the countries which the children of Israel inherited in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel, distributed for inheritance to them.

Christ gathered to Himself 12 disciples, which after His death were ordained by God as the leaders of the Church who in a full measure of unity (oneness) led the Church in the absence of Christ. The number took on a previously unrealized importance with the loss of Judas Iscariot. 

Acts 1:15-20 
1:15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about a hundred and twenty, (author's note: 10x12=120).
1:16 Men and brethren, this Scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.
1:17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.
1:18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
1:19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called, in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.
1:20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein; and, His bishopric let another take.

By a casting of lots a man was called to replace the lost Apostle. This allowed the Church to operate to the fullness of its creation. 

Acts 1:23-26 
1:23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.
1:24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, show whether of these two thou hast chosen,
1:25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.
1:26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

It may be coincidence but according to the scriptures shortly after the restoration of apostolic leadership to 12, a notable act of endowment by the Spirit of God occurred during the recognition of Pentecost the Hebrew feast of First Fruits (Leviticus 23:15-16).

Acts 2:1-4 
2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
2:3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it rested upon each of them.
2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

In the voice of the Spirit, Peter brought to the crowds the Gospel of the Kingdom with very dramatic results.

Acts 2:38-41 
2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
2:39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
2:40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

With the Church restored to a full measure of its creation (12 Apostles acting in leadership) the labor of God commenced in power. In the scriptures 12 seems to be a proper number of organization that can allow a people to be led and governed.  

The number 12 to the Hebrew people signified a perfection of government and organization. Is the number 12 a magical or holy number? There is no evidence to support such a claim, but I convinced that it does represent an organized entity operating to the fullest measure of its creation. The Church in its operational essence is meant to be an organized entity seeking to fulfill the work and glory of its creator God.  

I can't walk away from this symbolic depiction of the Bride of Christ without denoting the representation of the three Glories of God as brought to us in DC 76:3-7

Revelations 12:1 And there appeared a great sign in heaven, in the likeness of things on the earth; a woman clothed with the sun (the Celestial Glory), and the moon (the Terrestrial Glory) under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars (the Telestial Glory).

I have been given neither clarity nor a fullness of understanding concerning the depiction of His three Glories in Revelations 12:1. Sufficient is their presence here as yet another proof that Revelations 12:1 portrays for us the Church of Christ. 

I am convinced the symbols of John's Revelation describes the Church as it will appear spiritually in the fullest measure of its creation, but I would have you remember that the Church is not a person. The Church is a gathering of people joined by purpose to God, intent on serving that purpose. We have opened our hearts to John's testimony of the spiritual Church. I believe that in the ensuing verses of Proverbs 31 will give us an understanding of the temporal church/woman. I will remind you that the attitudes and attributes of the temporal Church must exist in each of us and together as a people gathered in the unity of oneness before it can ever be recognized as the true Church. God's Church cannot be of God unless we as a people are loyal to God and His ways. 

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