What if joy were a scriptural word that described the experience felt when receiving light?

When “the man” in section 88, likened unto God, visited his servants in his many kingdoms he described their encounter as “beholding the joy of my countenance” in verses 52-55, but then when repeating the experience, he says the servants were “made glad with the light of the countenance of the Lord” in verses 56 and 58,[1] thus possibly equating joy with light. 

Alma variously exclaimed,

And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!” [2]

 …joy because of the light of Christ unto life. [3]

When King Lamoni had fainted, Ammon knew some things about what he was experiencing. He said,

…the light which did light up his mind, which was the light of the glory of God, which was a marvelous light of his goodness—yea, this light had infused such joy into his soul…[4]

This infusion of joy resulted with the light originating from the glory of God. This glory of God is detailed clearly in scripture:

The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.[5]

What is this infusion process? Why does it bring joy? Is it possible then to feel joy even when stressed to the gills or in pain? How can I enhance and perpetuate this joy? Is there a plan?

The plan, simply stated says, “Man is that he might have joy.”[6] Though simple, this may be one of the most profound philosophical, theological, and perhaps physics statements about man’s nature, future, and divine purpose especially when placed in the context of what can appear to be an interesting statement about the celestial physics of this universe:

12 Which light (Light of Christ vs 8-11) proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—

 13 The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things.[7]

Additionally, Section 93 of the Doctrine and Covenants has always intrigued me with so many puzzling verses about light, Christ, grace, man’s eternal nature, truth, agency, Satan’s modus operandi, etc. But this section appears to be designed to teach the plan of happiness, applications for living, it and relationships between Christ, His Father, and my parenting.

Before detailing some of this amazing account of the “Plan of Happiness” and the inherent role of light and joy, it might be helpful to note what appears as a pattern revealed in an earlier section. Here the Lord says,

“… the first shall be last, and that the last shall be first in all things whatsoever I have created…”[8]

This first=last, last=first is a chiasm pattern recognized in short scripture passages as this form:

 But, it is rarely seen as a pattern for the “all things” of this verse or in full sections where ideas instead of just words are juxtaposed in comparison or contrast. Furthermore, this verse, it appears, is in the center of this whole section, which can be seen as a chiasm of many ideas, concepts, and events from the past and future. Pairing them in chiasmic form gives commentary and explanation for many things in this section. But the use of these patterns for study and insight in this section is another story.  I want to use this pattern in section 93 where it also appears to apply. A simplified overview of the concepts of the chiasm might look like this:

The chiasm begins and ends by connecting the reception of divine promises with our faithfulness in stewardship. But it is the center of any chiasm that reveals the writer’s main focus thereby pointing to the foundational ideas elaborated in the rest of the poetic format. So, let’s start in the middle of the section without losing the connection to stewardship and specific promises at the beginning and end.

Chiastic SECTION C -“The eternal nature of man and how he progresses.” – PHYSICS

The eternal nature of man is begun with this statement:

23 Ye were also in the beginning with the Father; that which is Spirit, even the Spirit of truth;

Part of us was with Father in “the beginning. Since that part is here called “spirit even the Spirit of truth” it could be talking about our spirit birth since God is called “the Father of lights[9].” But note verse 29:

29 Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.[10]

This “light of truth” or “spirit of truth” is our eternal-part that is co-existent with God. Though, our spirit birth probably gave us the individuality and possibilities to progress as described in verse 27-31. This section’s account of Father’s plan centralizes on the necessity of receiving additional light and truth through our agency or choice to act. These verses may be describing the physics of our progression, if “light” is literally the basis of the “more refined matter” of the spirit.[11]

Verse twenty-four has been puzzling in seeming to define truth as the knowledge of a thing’s past present and future.

24 And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;

But, that interpretation always elicited the old argument about sound, “Is there sound without a hearer?” Is there truth without a knower? But, truth seems to be interchangeable with other words in sections of scripture.

45  …whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.[12]

Verses 23 and 29 of section 93, associate “man” as truth, perhaps as a metaphor, or as organized light? If so, then conclusions about our nature or identity, require a complete knowledge of our past, present, and future?

Now, I am no physicist but as I read Stephen Hawkins,  “The Grand Design”, I was struck with the difficult to explain concept in quantum physics of multiple parallel realities. Here Hawkins explained that once light is emitted it travels all possible paths until it is observed.  Thus, many have concluded that all things have parallel realities. Once someone from outside the reality observes one of the paths, it becomes THE reality as all other paths disappear even into the past. Observation, in the present, then establishes the past, and present, which then spawns possibilities for potential futures.  So, through this lens, verses 24-32 could be telling us that our nature, in eternity, is determined by how we act under God’s observation during the lens of mortality. Note, in just one example of a comment by Jehovah, who, though omniscient, refers to the necessity of His observing Abraham acting in mortal time before potential can be established as reality. Here, Jehovah speaks through the mouth of the angel abruptly ending Abraham’s willing attempt to sacrifice:

“…for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son”[13]

Until the “now” of Abraham’s choice, the known was not established as “the reality” of Abraham’s developing character. His observed experience established which of the known parallel possibilities had become THE reality, the “now”, and thereby narrowed which of the otherwise infinite future possibilities were on path to the single reality called “truth”.

This understanding gives great clarity and even power to us as we confront our choices. Note verses 30-31

30 All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.[14]

Truth, as a concept, cannot act. But truth, as a person or budding intelligence, can. The sphere of our acting is this probationary state (sphere) into which we have been placed. Each act, observed by God, could then establish which possibility becomes reality and thereby successively narrow which parallel future would represent our “truth”. Our past has simply created the possibilities for this present moment from which sprout the multiple possibilities of our future and simultaneously narrow and eliminate other heretofore possible futures. In this probationary state we can then repent (rewrite past actions). We can also insert into the past of dead loved ones, ordinances they missed, wherein, if they accept, their past is changed by our joint action in the present, thereby changing their future possibilities. Standing between two large mirrors produces a metaphorical eternity as the reflections reflect back upon themselves, ad infinitum. If the mirror in back is the past and the one in front the future, changing the back mirror (the past) also changes the front mirror (the future). Thus, through the mercy of the atonement in this probationary mortality, by repenting or through vicarious ordinance work, the past can be changed by action in the present, thus securing new possible futures[15]. So when Father says “I will remember them no more”[16] it isn’t because He forgets or suspends His omniscience, it would be because, after mortality, that mistaken or sinful path ceases to exist.

Since in our sphere of action we are only able to experience time linearly, psychological time and Satan’s lies to us about our possibilities, mentally trap us. Psychological time is defined as dwelling/thinking on the past, resulting in depression or pride, or thinking/dwelling on the future leading to anxiety, worry, or fear. Note verse 25 in the sequence.

25 And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning.[17]

More or less than what; more or less than the knowledge of one’s past, present, AND future. For example, “Look at you, look at what you have done. You will never amount to anything. You are worthless….” “You are your past,” isolates you from both present and future and is therefore “the less”; the lie! Or, “You could never do that or be worth anything, it is too difficult and you could never be capable!” Again, anything more or less than ”as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come“, is a lie.  Satan’s lies appear in many forms. Note the Lord’s additional reassurance through both Paul and Joseph Smith:

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.[18]

Satan promises that we can sow without reaping, and reap without sowing. In other words I can do anything I want, now, without any future consequences and, I don’t need to do anything now to get what I want in the future. By so lying, he devalues the power of the present by saying the future has no connection with my present choices or future hopes. The truth is that the present is really the only time I can act and by acting or choosing I determine my future. In fact, psychological time distracts us, even robs us of the power of the present, the power to act, to choose, to feel and receive the light available, that results in joy.  I cannot act in the past; I cannot feel joy in the yesterday. I can learn from the memories but cannot re-experience the past without the present, the now. I cannot act in the future or feel joy tomorrow. It remains and always will be a series of possibilities, even illusions hinging on the present.

31 Behold, here (where you can act) is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light.[19]

Equating agency (for which we fought to preserve) with condemnation may seem contradictory unless we understand that as beings of light infused with the light of Christ, we are created to crescendo in our reception of light unto “a fullness”.

32 And every man whose spirit receiveth not the light is under condemnation.

A continual reception of light is part of our becoming all that we were created to be. To stop is to be damned and seems to result in a spiritual entropy of sorts.

11 And they that will harden their hearts (shut out reception of light), to them is given the lesser aportion of the word until they bknow nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the cchains of dhell.[20]

9 And (without the material body) our spirits must have become alike unto him, and we become devils, bangels to a cdevil[21]

But why does this process of becoming like Father also requires that a material body be fused to the spirit of light?

33 For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy;

34 And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy.[22]

To which a statement made by Joseph Smith in the King Follett discourse could help explain the necessity of this coupling.

Hence we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos—chaotic matter, which is element, and in which dwells all the glory.[23]

It is, perhaps, that the material matter allows us to retain the light we are receiving so that an aggregated fullness is possible once we are resurrected and the union between spirit and body is permanent like unto Father.

 36 The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.[24]

So how do I go about receiving this “light” (whereby I can experience joy) besides being “soft hearted” or willing/ humble/ receptive to the Holy Spirit?

45 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.

46 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.47  And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father.[25]

The Lord adds:

24 That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.[26]

So the plan seems simple: we begin both as light and with light, then we read the word of God in scripture or listen to it spoken and then hearken to the Holy Spirit and the scriptures to receive more light, and we obey or are true to the light we have, to thereby receive more light. Because we are subject to deception and appetite we also repent of mistakes and sin wherein, through the atonement during our probationary time, our past is literally changed so that our future remains bright. But following the plan remains, for us, the same challenge we have always faced, though the context is changed.

 38 Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God.[27]

But seen here is the necessity to continue the investment so as to receive additional light and truth.“

37 Light and truth forsake that evil one.[28]

Therefore if one is not actively seeking to receive light and truth by which joy comes and progression results, condemnation/damnation follows.


But Satan cannot be blamed for all the darkness and evil in the world when he has no power over our power to act/agency. So what is his operational methodology of deception?

39 And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers.[29]

All sin is selfishness but leads to the loss of the sinner’s light, part of their intelligence, and thus makes them progressively stupid to goodness. Multiply that reality with the perpetuating of parental traditions intergenerationally and darkness crescendos. Satan may not be given to tempt little children but he can their parents.

So the plan for joy must include this divine directive to parents less they inadvertently become instruments of darkness:

40 But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.

So it is not enough to teach your children, you must teach your children to teach their children light and truth. This section ends with a stern scolding to each member of the first presidency for his omission as a parent. These include:

  • “You have not taught your children light and truth, according to the commandments v42
  • Set in order your own house, for there are many things that are not right in your house v43-44
  • Your family must needs repent and forsake some things, and give more earnest heed unto your sayings 48”

Some other specific scriptural parental injunctions include:

  • “Teach them …to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands[30]
  • 47 Wherefore, they cannot sin, for power is not given unto Satan to tempt little children, until they begin to become accountable before me;

48 For it is given unto them even as I will, according to mine own pleasure, that great things may be required at the hand of their fathers.[31]

  • 14 And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.

15 But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another.[32]

This parental command in section 93 has begun the next section in the chiasm and is thereby matched with the earlier section about the relationship between the Father and the Son and how the process of light or grace is gifted and crescendoed.

2 And that I am the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world;

3 And that I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one—

4 The Father because he gave me of his fulness, and the Son because I was in the world and made flesh my tabernacle, and dwelt among the sons of men.

5 I was in the world and received of my Father, and the works of him were plainly manifest.[33]

This divine Father and Son were so united, but how? The Son was given all that the Father could give and since the Son did “all his father commanded” even when separated by mortality, their relationship was necessarily founded on deep love and respect forged at least by working together in the creation of this universe![34] But the process of receiving this fullness is the purpose of including it here as matching commentary to how we need to father our children and even serve outside the family.

“ 12 And I, John, saw that he received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace FOR grace;[35]

This grace seems to be another word used interchangeably with light as some divine endowment, which Christ then gave to others as He served as Father’s divine instrument. This wasn’t just service but rather divinely directed instrumentation. Father worked through the Son to bless all mankind. By so doing he received this light/grace incrementally accumulating until He had “a fullness.”

13 And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace TO grace, until he received a fulness;[36]

This is then illustrated in the next verses until it is clarified as a path for all of us to follow.

 20 For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace.[37]

As we seek partnership with the Father and then allow Him to work through us as parents by giving to our children that which we receive and are instructed to bestow on them, Father adds to the endowment incrementally until we too receive fullness. Our children too, must then continue to cross this intergenerational bridge through receiving grace for grace.


The next matching sections of the chiasm pair the promises with fulfilling our stewardships. The promises consist of all that is included in:

 “1 Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that 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;[38]

For such an eternal promise of divine unity we will be allowed a process of refinement until our cup is sufficiently deep to hold all that the father hath. This deepening cup is given a family context by one unnamed LDS psychologist as:

Your deepest joys and most difficult trials will come from those you are either married to or are born to you.

Joseph Smith, in elaborating on Paul’s summary at the end of Hebrews 11, as he explained the reality that faith was required for all those noble ones who had passed away because they had died struggling without receiving the completion of the divine promises made to them, said:

God having provided some better things for them through their sufferings, for without sufferings they could not be made perfect.[39]

Paul seemed to know something of the process of parenting that absolutely required this compensating faith to meet the inherent difficulties.  Faith adds to belief some devoted action[40] (the power of the present).  We too may die without seeing the fulfillment of all our divine promises thereby requiring a continual strengthening of our faith by a daily infusion of light and truth. The promises concerning our children, in spite of our parental failures are powerful and eternal. To those saints, though not perfect, but enduringly faithful to their temple covenants Joseph said:

…the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity.[41]

In the context of agency President Faust clarified:

Perhaps in this life we are not given to fully understand how enduring the sealing cords of righteous parents are to their children.  It may very well be that there are more helpful sources at work than we know.  I believe there is a strong familial pull as the influence of beloved ancestors continues with us from the other side of the veil. [42]

But, what actions can those ancestors have in bringing powerful righteous influence on their posterity? This “something” is elaborated in modern revelation using in the same language as Paul anciently as seen in this comparison:

40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.[43]For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect. Neither can they nor we be made perfect without those who have died in the gospel also…[44]

The Paul’s “better way” explained in modern revelation results in more than promises fulfilled. By including the generations in bringing about those promises the union of the generations is the effect by allowing the intergenerational family to continue the work of the covenants in the process of the At-ONE-ment. There are three parties here: We, the living; they, our dead; and other converted dead. About which Joseph explained:

“We cannot be perfect without the fathers. We must have revelation from them…”[45]

Parenting doesn’t end with death nor are we alone as we continue to teach our children to teach their children “grace for grace, and from grace to grace” following the model of the Father and the Son.

aAngels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, bfeast upon the cwords of Christ[46]

45 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.[47]

As we work instrumentally to exalt others, the very work allows Christ to exalt us! We cannot be perfect without our children nor they without us. Father can change us and our fathers better by working through us than by working on us. That is the joy/light filled plan. Man is designed from and for light, which yields joy, now and eternally.

[1] Doctrine and Covenants 88:50-58 (D&C)

[2] The Book of Mormon, Alma 36:20 (BofM)

[3] BoM, Alma 28:14

[4] BofM, Alma 19:6

[5] D&C 93:36

[6] BofM 2 Nephi 2:25

[7] D&C 88

[8] D&C 29:30

[9] D&C 67:9

[10] D&C 93

[11] D&C 131:7-8

7 There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes;

 8 We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter.

[12] D&C 84

[13] Genesis 22:12

[14] D&C 93

[15] BofM, Alma 42:13, 22-24

13 Therefore, according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men in this probationary state, yea, this preparatory state; for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice. Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God.

22 But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance, mercy claimeth; otherwise, justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God.

 23 But God ceaseth not to be God, and mercy claimeth the penitent, and mercy cometh because of the atonement; and the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and the resurrection of the dead bringeth eback men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored into his presence, to be fudged according to their works, according to the law and justice.

 24 For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved.

[16] D&C 58:42

42 Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.

[17] D&C 93

[18] Galatians 6:7; see also D&C 6:33

[19] D&C 93

[20] BofM, Alma 12

[21] BofM, 2 Nephi 9

[22] D&C 93

[23] Joseph Smith, TPJS p 352

[24] D&C 93

[25] D&C 84:45-47

[26] D&C 50 see verses 17-26, 28 for context

[27] D&C 93

[28] Ibid

[29] Ibid

[30] D&C 68:25

[31] D&C 29

[32] BoM, Mosiah 4

[33] D&C 93

[34] Ibid:6-11

[35] Ibid

[36] Ibid

[37] Ibid

[38] Ibid

[39] JST Heb. 11:40 see also KJ Heb 11:13, 39

[40] Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith [1985], 1; For a more complete explanation of how faith fuses time see Elder David A Bednar, “Ask in Faith”, Conference, April 2008 and “Seek Learning by Faith”, Ensign Sept. 2007

[41] Orson F. Whitney, Conference Report, Apr. 1929, 110

[42] President James E. Faust, Conference Report, April 2003, p. 68

[43] Hebrews 11:40

[44] D&C 128:18

[45] Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 338

[46] BofM, 2 Nephi 32:3

[47] D&C 84