The Doctrine and Covenants is a treasurehouse of doctrinal understanding, truly a book of answers, said Robert L. Millet, while speaking about the Second Coming of Christ during the 25th annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium Oct. 19.
Brother Millet, dean of BYU Religious Education, answered questions about the Second Coming during his remarks in the symposium's closing session. Following are selected responses from his presentation.What is the Second Coming? "Jesus came to earth as a mortal being in the meridian of time. He taught the gospel, bestowed divine authority, organized the Church, and suffered and died as an infinite atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. He stated that He would come again, not as the meek and lowly Nazarene, but as the Lord of Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts, the Lord of Armies. His Second Coming is thus spoken of as His coming `in glory,' meaning, in His true identity as the God of all creation, the Redeemer and Judge. . . .
"The Second Coming in glory is in fact the end of the world, meaning the end of worldliness, the destruction of the wicked. At this coming the wicked will be destroyed, the righteous quickened and caught up to meet Him, and the earth transformed from a fallen telestial orb to a terrestrial, paradisiacal sphere. We will live and move about among new heavens and new earth. The Second Coming will initiate the millennial reign."
Will all be surprised and caught unaware? "The scriptures speak of the Master returning as `a thief in the night.' It is true that no mortal man has known, does now know, or will yet know the precise day of the Lord's Second Advent. This is true for prophets and apostles as well as the rank and file of society and the Church. The Lord did not reveal to Joseph Smith the precise day and time of His coming. . . .
"On the other hand, the Saints are promised that if they are in tune with the Spirit, they can know the time and season. The Apostle Paul chose the descriptive analogy of a pregnant women about to deliver. She may not know the exact hour or day when the birth is to take place, but one thing she knows for sure: it will be soon. It must be soon. The impressions and feelings and signs within her own body so testify.
"In that day, surely the Saints of the Most High, the members of the body of Christ, will be pleading for the Lord to deliver the travailing earth, to bring an end to corruption and degredation, to introduce an era of peace and righteousness. And those who give heed to the words of scripture, and especially to the living oracles, will stand as the
children of light, and the children of the day,' those whoare not of the night, nor of darkness.' (1 Thes. 5:2-5.) In a modern revelation the Savior declared: `And again, verily I say unto you, the coming of the Lord draweth nigh, and it overtaketh the world as a thief in the night - therefore, gird up your loins, that you may be the children of light, and that day shall not overtake you as a thief' (D&C 106:4-5). . . ."
When the Lord comes, who will come with Him? "The righteous dead from ages past - those who qualify for the first resurrection, specifically those who died true in the faith since the time the first resurrection was initiated in the meridian of time - will come with the Savior when he returns in glory. . . ."
What happens to those living on earth when He comes? "Those who are of at least a terrestrial level of righteousness shall continue to live as mortals after the Lord returns. The Saints shall live to
the age of man' - in the words of Isaiah, the age of 100 (Isaiah 65:20) - and will then pass through death and be changed instantly from mortality to resurrected immortality.Yea, and blessed are the dead that die in the Lord, . . . when the Lord shall come, and old things shall pass away, and all things become new, they shall rise from the dead and shall not die after, and shall receive an inheritance before the Lord, in the holy city. And he that liveth when the Lord shall come, and hath kept the faith, blessed is he; nevertheless, it is appointed to him to die at the age of man. Wherefore, children shall grow up until they become old' - that is, no longer shall little ones die before the time of accountability; `old men shall die; but they shall not sleep in the dust, but they shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye.' (D&C 63:49-51.)
"President Joseph Fielding Smith pointed out that `the inhabitants of the earth will have a sort of translation. They will be transferred to a condition of the terrestrial order, and so they will have power over disease and they will have power to live until they get a certain age and then they will die.' (Smith, Joseph Fielding; The Signs of the Times.)"
When does the Millennium begin? Why will it begin? "The Second Coming in the glory of Jesus Christ ushers in the Millennium. The Millennium does not begin when Christ comes to His temple in Missouri, when He appears at Adam-ondi-Ahman, or when He stands on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. The Millennium will not come because men and women on earth have become noble and good, because Christian charity will have spread across the globe and goodwill is the order of the day. The Millennium will not come because technological advances and medical miracles will have extended human life or because peace treaties among warring nations will have soothed injured feelings and eased political tensions for a time.
"The Millennium will be brought in by power, by the power of Him who is the King of kings and Lord of lords. Satan will be bound by power, and the glory of the Millennium will be maintained by the righteousness of those who are permitted to live on earth. (1 Ne. 22:15, 26.)"
The scriptures warn of false Christs and false prophets. How can we know whom to trust? Where do we turn for more insight? "We must keep our eyes fixed on those charged with the direction of this Church, the prophets, seers, and revelators of our day. What they stress in their instruction to us should be what we stress. Any who come before the Saints claiming some special insight, gift, training, or commission to elucidate detail concerning the signs of the times, beyond that which the Brethren have set forth, is suspect, and is running before his or her file leaders, their teachings are not to be trusted or received. . . .
"With the exception of those few deluded persons who claim to be Jesus, when we speak of false Christs we speak not so much of individuals as of false spirits, false doctrines, false systems of salvation. Latter-day Saints who stick with the Brethren, who study and teach from the conference reports, the official pronouncements and proclamations, and the monthly First Presidency messages in the Ensign - these are they who treasure up the word of the Lord, who will not be deceived or led astray at the last day. . . ." (Joseph Smith -Matthew 1:37.) "That we will follow the Brethren, search the scriptures, pray mightily for discernment and for awareness and understanding of the signs of the times, is my hope," concluded Brother Millet. "That we will be wise, receive the truth, take the Holy Spirit for our guide, and thereby have our lamps filled, is my prayer."