In an address in 1971, President Joseph Fielding Smith, then serving as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said: “I think I can pay no greater tribute to [President Lorenzo Snow and Elder Erastus Snow] than to preach again that glorious doctrine which they taught and which was one of the favorite themes, particularly of President Lorenzo Snow …We have been promised by the Lord that if we know how to worship, and know what we worship, we may come unto the Father in his name, and in due time receive of his fulness. We have the promise that if we keep his commandments, we shall receive of his fulness and be glorified in him as he is in the Father. This is a doctrine which delighted president Snow, as it does all of us. Early in his ministry he received by direct, personal revelation the knowledge that (in the Prophet Joseph Smith's language), 'God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens,' and that men 'have got to learn how to be Gods …the same as all Gods have done before. After this doctrine had been taught by the Prophet, President Snow felt free to teach it also, and he summarized it in one of the best known couplets in the Church …This same doctrine has of course been known to the prophets of all the ages, and President Snow wrote an excellent poetic summary of it.” It is clear that the teaching of President Lorenzo Snow is both acceptable and accepted doctrine in the Church today.
When a group of Latter-day Saints were asked what one question they would most like to ask of the Savior about his second coming, three questions came up again and again. Not surprisingly, “When will it be?” was the most-asked question. The second took various forms but had essentially the same intent: “What is life going to be like before he comes and then when he comes?” The third most-asked question was “How do I prepare myself so I will be ready?” Although the answers to the first two questions are of great interest, the answer to the third question is probably of greatest immediate importance ... Whether the Lord’s return will be great or dreadful for us will depend largely on whether or not we are prepared. The Lord has specifically commanded us, “Prepare yourselves for the great day of the Lord” (D&C 133:10). And in another revelation he gave this wonderful promise: “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (D&C 38:30). That promise may apply in many situations, but it certainly has particular relevance when we talk about the Second Coming.
In the scriptures, the city of Zion and the stakes of Zion are described in terms that should give the Saints some consolation. The New Jerusalem, for example, will be “a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God” (D&C 45:66) ... Such conditions—peace, safety, refuge, defense—clearly will attract others who are not members of the Church ... In such conditions, thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of people will join with the Saints in an attempt to escape the horrible things going on around them. The modern prophets have also talked about such possibilities. In 1856, President Heber C. Kimball, speaking of the handcart companies, asked: “Is this the end of it? No; there will be millions on millions that will come much in the same way, only they will not have hand carts, for they will take their bundles under their arms, and their children on their backs, and under their arms, and flee; and Zion's people will have to send out relief to them, for they will come when the judgments come on the nations.” About a year later, he returned to that same theme and said: “It behooves us to be saving and to prepare for the time to come. The day will come when the people of the United States will come lugging their bundles under their arms, coming to us for bread to eat.”
So just how scrupulous should we be in deciding whether we are worthy each week? The consequences are serious enough that the question deserves careful thought. Elder Melvin J. Ballard gave some specific and helpful counsel in this regard: I suggest that perhaps some of us are ashamed to come to the sacrament table because we feel unworthy and are afraid lest we eat and drink of these sacred emblems to our own condemnation. [But] we want every Latter-day Saint to come to the sacrament table because it is the place for self-investigation, for self-inspection, where we may learn to rectify our course and to make right our own lives, bringing ourselves into harmony with the teachings of the Church and with our brethren and sisters. It is the place where we become our own judges. There may be some instances where the elders of the Church could say, properly, to one who, in transgression, stretches forth his hands to partake of the emblems: “You should not do this until you have made restitution”; but ordinarily we will be our own judges. If we are properly instructed, we know that it is not our privilege to partake of the emblems of the flesh and blood of the Lord in sin, in transgression, or having injured and holding feelings against our brethren and sisters.
To begin with, “dust of the earth” is a scriptural phrase implying far more than mere dirt particles. We are told that man was created from the dust of the earth (see Gen. 2:7). Perhaps another word that would come close to what is implied by dust would be “the elements of the earth.” In Latter-day Saint theology, we certainly do not believe that God pulled together a pile of mud, formed it into the shape of a man, and breathed life into it. A more accurate statement would be to say that God created the human body from the elements of the earth.
Abraham told us by means of the Urim and Thummim that the star nearest to the throne of God is called Kolob see Abr. 3:3 Assuming for a moment that Kolob was in our own Milky Way Galaxy, it still leaves a staggering time question, since our own solar system is approximately thirty thousand light years out from the hub of the Milky Way in one of the spiral arms. Even if we assume Kolob is somewhere near the center of our own galaxy, it would still take a being moving at the speed of light thirty thousand years to travel from Kolob to earth! In other words, if God were moving at the speed of light, he would have had to leave Kolob twenty-four thousand years before the fall of Adam in order to appear to Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove in the spring of 1820!
Lehi made five important points as to why the Fall happened and how the Fall helped the Lord fulfill his divine plan of redemption: (1) opposition is necessary for man’s progression (v. 11); (2) the Lord set up opposing choices (v. 15); (3) he gave man his agency (v. 16); (4) in order to make that agency operative, both choice had to be enticing (v. 16; D&C 29:39) and (5) God allowed Satan, who makes the negative option sound as enticing as the positive, to operate in the Garden and in this world …When one examines the [five] conditions that resulted from the Fall, it becomes evident that all of these are conditions necessary for the progression of mankind toward godhood. They are necessary for man to prove himself and to become accountable before God. Therefore, again, noting that if there had been no fall, the purposes of God would have been frustrated, Lehi concluded: “All things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy. And the messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall” (2 Ne. 2:24-26).
So how do we make it through this spiritually, and often physically, dangerous journey we call mortality? God does not give us a daily rule book. He gives us a Companion who is with us daily! He does not hand us a weekly program, or a binder filled with formulas, or a card box of recipes that tells us exactly what we must do and say and think. He doesn’t have to. Instead, He gives us a member of the Godhead to be our companion. He confers that gift upon His children by the laying on of hands of his authorized servants. And if they meet certain conditions, the promise is that “they may always have his Spirit to be with them” (D&C 20:77)
Less Than the Dust of the Earth. The comment that we are even less than the dust of the earth may, on the surface, seem a little more difficult to resolve. Has man no worth at all, as that would imply? An experience Moses had has an interesting parallel to King Benjamin's thinking here. Benjamin concluded that man is less than the dust of the earth immediately after he noted that God is the creator and sustainer of men. About a thousand years earlier, the prophet Moses was caught up in heavenly vision and was shown the creation of the world . . . and all the children of men. (Moses 1:8). Then the heavenly power withdrew, and Moses was left to himself. When he recovered a little from the experience, his first words were 'Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed' (Moses 1:10). Something about the majesty and infinite awesomeness of the creation reminded both King Benjamin and Moses of man's puny and finite nature. Even when we sense our smallness, however, are we really less than the dust? The 'less than' concept is what particularly stings. Nothingness is one thing, worthlessness quite another. On the surface, however, that is exactly what King Benjamin's phrase 'ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth' (Mosiah 2:25) seems to imply. Let us examine the phrase and its uses in the scriptures for clues that may aid our understanding. To begin with, 'dust of the earth' is a scriptural phrase implying far more than mere dirt particles. We are told that man was created from the dust of the earth (see Gen. 2:7). Perhaps another word that would come close to what is implied by dust would be the elements of the earth. In Latter-day Saint theology, we certainly do not believe that God pulled together a pile of mud, formed it into the shape of a man, and breathed life into it. A more accurate statement would be to say that God created the human body from the elements of the earth. Benjamin said then, to paraphrase, that we are not even as much as those elements. Interestingly, Mormon is the one who gives us the clues to help us better understand King Benjamin's statement. Benjamin's words, as well as the angel's message that the king delivered to his people, had such a powerful impact upon the people that they fell to the ground. Mormon commented significantly, 'They had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth' (Mosiah 4:2; emphasis added). What a significant clue! The carnal or natural man is what is less than the dust of the earth. King Benjamin apparently agreed. One of the first things he stated as he continued his address after his people had fallen to the ground was that his people had been awakened to a sense of '[their] nothingness, and [their] worthless and fallen state' (Mosiah 4:5). Here again man's worthlessness is mentioned in the context of his fallen state.
From the very first moments of the Restoration, revelation has been the driving force of the Church. God declared The Church of Jesus Christ to be “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” D&C 1:30 Surely it is revelation that makes the Church both true and living.
One important application of the Atonement is to the fall of Adam. We know that it would be unjust for a person to be punished for violations he did not commit. Thus, all mankind being punished for Adam and Eve’s disobedience would be unjust—it would be contrary to the law of justice. So regardless of the kinds of lives individuals have led, the effects of the fall of Adam—physical and spiritual death: i.e., the separation from God's presence)—are overcome for all souls who come to earth. Because of the Atonement, everyone will be resurrected and overcome physical death; and through the power of Christ, all will be brought back into the presence of God for the period of judgment and the assignment of glory (see 1 Cor. 15:22; 2 Ne. 9:38) Thus both physical death and that spiritual death resulting from Adam’s fall are therefore removed through Christ.