Jim,

I have a question about in Revelation it says that we will be kings and priests. I was wondering why? If there is not eternal progression why would we need to be crowned kings and priests? I know it's probably a simple answer but I haven't figured it out.

Thanks,
Sharon

  Sharon,

I'm going to give you a long answer because the question is typical of many questions that arise out of a very common mistake among Mormons.

Basically, the problem is to bring to the text of the Bible ideas, concepts, and meanings that are inventions of Mormonism. Then to find a word in the Bible which is similar to the concept and decide the word must represent the Mormon concept.

Let me give you an example. In I Cor. chapter 15 we find:

"40 [There are] also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial [is] one, and the [glory] of the terrestrial [is] another. 41 [There is] one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for [one] star differeth from [another] star in glory." Now Joseph Smith decided there were different levels of heaven. I think the reason he did so was to manipulate the Saints into greater levels of obedience. He could say to them, "The really, really obedient people go to a better kingdom than the mediocre Mormons. Now, that is certainly contrary to the teaching of the Bible which says there are two choices: heaven and hell.

But, Smith likes the other idea and since he has not scripture for it, he looks for one that has that kind of ring to it. He finds it in I Cor chapter 15. "Aha! he says, "Here is a description of the levels of heaven!" But, of course that passage has nothing at all to do with any levels of heaven. It is saying that the resurrected body is so perfect and beautiful that comparing it to our present body would be like comparing the brightness of the sun to the brightness of the moon. So there are "terrestrial bodies" (our present ones) and "celestial bodies" (the ones we will have in the resurrection.

Now, here is where the problem fits in with the "kings and priests." When a person, who has been repeatedly told that heaven consists of three levels (or five if you count all three levels of the Celestial Kingdom), that person begins to believe to believe that it is true. Then when he hears the words "terrestrial and celestial" he immediately thinks of heavens. But those words _do not_ describe heavens.

So, when you hear or read the words "kings and priests," you say "Eternal Progression." Well, the idea of eternal progression is not found anywhere in the Bible. If there _were_ such a thing as eternal progression, then "kings and priests" might be referring to that. And if there were such things as multiple heavens the words "terrestrial and celestial" might very well be pertaining to them. (Of course all one has to do is read the 15th chapter of I Corinthians to find out what the words _are_ referring to).

So, when we encounter words in the Bible we can't allow ourselves to say "OK, Joseph Smith has defined this for us." We have to ask what the words might mean, without reference to--in this case--eternal progression. No evidence of eternal progression in the Bible.

So, what is happening when Revelation uses "kings and priests." The bad news is we may not know. See, when we find something in the Bible which is not clearly explained, we have to wait for the fuller explanation. We can speculate as to what is meant. But, to be honest, not withstanding all the spurious doctrines of Mormonism, we really do not know much at all about heaven. We know that it is Good. We know God is there. We know we worship Him there. We also know, to lesser degree, that there is no marriage in heaven, that we will have a mansion there, that we will know friends and relatives from this earth. We know some things for certain: there is no death or dying, no sickness, no tears in heaven. But beyond those things, we don't know much.

Kings and priests? Well, we know we are _sons_ and priests right now. Being a son (or daughter) is even better than being a king. A priest is simply someone who helps people come to see and know God. So these two reverences in Revelation (a book, by the way, which is _full_ of pictures and allusions of which we have no understanding) mean something. One astute commentator on Revelation has said of these passages:

He has made them kings and priests to God and his Father. Having justified and sanctified them, he makes them kings to his Father; that is, in his FatherŐs account, with his approbation, and for his glory. As kings, they govern their own spirits, conquer Satan, have power and prevalency with God in prayer, and shall judge the world. He hath made them priests, given them access to God, enabled them to enter into the holiest and to offer spiritual and acceptable sacrifices, and has given them an unction suitable to this character; and for these high honours and favours they are bound to ascribe to him dominion and glory for ever. His understanding seems to be that these exalted terms are used to describe the glorious condition in which we--believers--find ourselves in heaven.

The Bible Interpretation principle here is found in two warnings in scripture. Warnings Joseph Smith, had he heeded them, would not have created Mormonism, what the late Dr. Walter Martin called "A confusion of garbled doctrines masquerading as Christianity." The other warning is found in II Peter 1:20:

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. This means that no scripture can be ripped out of context and said to mean something when the rest of the Bible teaches the opposite. As in I Cor 8:5: as there be gods many, and lords many ....which Mormonism quotes _entirely out of context and backwards to its true meaning_ to prove that men may become gods!

I hope you see the principle I am trying to drive home here, Sharon. Mormonism hears the word "priesthood," and thinks "Mormon Priesthood." But in the New Testament, the whole idea of Priesthood is that there is _only one Priest_ and we have direct access to Him. (Yes, as I said, we are "priests" in a sense, but the idea of an organized priesthood such as is described in the Old Testament is totally done away with in Christ. That ending of the Old Testament Priesthood is documented in the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament.

So, if you want to know what the Bible says, you have to understand that you can't have Joseph Smith and the fatally flawed doctrines of Mormonism informing the interpretation of the biblical text.

Hope that wasn't too involved and I hope it helps.

Hang in there...

Jim Spencer
Through the Maze Ministry
jim@BeyondMormonism.com