Is it possible that through the loss of a single doctrine from the gospel of Jesus Christ that our religion becomes vain and useless?
The focus of all we do religiously points toward a literal reconciliation with God during this mortal probation:
“every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am” (D&C 93:1)
“And again, verily I say unto you that it is your privilege, and a promise I give unto you that have been ordained unto this ministry, that inasmuch as you strip yourselves from jealousies and fears, and humble yourselves before me, for ye are not sufficiently humble, the veil shall be rent and you shall see me and know that I am” (D&C 67:10)
That is what gospel success looks like. That is our goal. Anything less is a counterfeit and will result in a non-celestial outcome.
“For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me. But if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that where I am ye shall be also. This is eternal lives—to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law. Broad is the gate, and wide the way that leadeth to the deaths;and many there are that go in thereat, because they receive me not, neither do they abide in my law. (D&C 132:22-25)
“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.” (Matthew 7:22-23)
“I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you…Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:18,23)
“John 14:23—The appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse, is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.” (D&C 130:3)
We sometimes refer to this doctrine as “the mysteries.” The mysteries lead us to know God.
“And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.” (D&C 84:19)
King Benjamin taught his sons that if it weren’t for the Nephite’s understanding of the mysteries and God’s commandments, their faithful ancestors would have “dwindled in unbelief”:
“I say unto you, my sons, were it not for these things, which have been kept and preserved by the hand of God, that we might read and understand of his mysteries, and have his commandments always before our eyes, that even our fathers would have dwindled in unbelief, and we should have been like unto our brethren, the Lamanites, who know nothing concerning these things, or even do not believe them when they are taught them, because of the traditions of their fathers, which are not correct.” (Mosiah 1:5)
Without the mysteries we might be led to believe that religious behavior, like going to Church and paying tithing and doing home teaching, would be enough of a “religious” manifestation to insure a celestial outcome, even when such religious acts could be done for the wrong reasons. Heaven cannot be tricked. God knows whether someone is sincere. If they are, He sends heavenly messengers to teach them how to enter His presence. If they are not they are shut out from His presence.
“Therefore he sent angels to converse with them, who caused men to behold of his glory.” (Alma 12:29)
It is the perfect culmination to a perfect religion; if you do it right you come to know God. But not until you do things the way He requires.
“A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation” (Lectures on Faith)
If it hasn’t happened for us, we have not yet sacrificed all. If our religion denies the possibility or necessity of knowing God we will not be blessed with sufficient faith to enter into eternal “life and salvation.” How will we know when we are making real progress? When the angels show up.
“has the day of miracles ceased? Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men?… Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain. For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made.” (Moroni 7:35-38)
Without angels we are as though there had been no redemption made? “if these things have ceased…they are as though there had been no redemption made.”
When does the atonement become fully efficacious in our lives? When we know God. Because no unclean thing can enter the presence of God, those that do are fully cleansed so they can bear His presence. That’s why we should be looking for messengers from our Father, as their role is to teach us how to enter into His presence so that we can become clean from the sins of this generation.
“And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said: Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you.” (Ether 3:13)
“Wherefore, thy soul shall be blessed, and thou shalt dwell safely with thy brother, Nephi; and thy days shall be spent in the service of thy God. Wherefore, I know that thou art redeemed, because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer; for thou hast beheld that in the fulness of time he cometh to bring salvation unto men. And thou hast beheld in thy youth his glory; wherefore, thou art blessed even as they unto whom he shall minister in the flesh; for the Spirit is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.” (2 Nephi 2:3-4)
“And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed. And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away. And I said: Lord, how is it done? And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole.” (Enos 1:5-8)
If we lose the hope/expectation of seeking God’s face as the pinnacle of our mortal religious experience our religion becomes vain and meaningless.
“I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.” (John 14:18)