Zion has this glorious connotation, a vision of community and strength and unity compassed by the glory of God. The Lord identifies Zion’s citizens as “the pure in heart.”
The Lord commanded His people to build Zion—as a physical place and a personal state of being. He’s given commandment that applied to the initial restorers of His latter-day kingdom and continues to apply to all covenant keepers now.
For Zion must increase in beauty, and in holiness; her borders must be enlarged; her stakes must be strengthened; yea, verily I say unto you, Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments.
Therefore, I give unto you this commandment, that ye bind yourselves by this covenant, and it shall be done according to the laws of the Lord.
But how!? What does that really mean to me as an individual? In order to live in Zion, I have to be a Zion person. I looked to how the Lord commanded Zion to be built because I knew I could follow the same pattern in my personal life.
And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself.
And my people must needs be chastened until they learn obedience, if it must needs be, by the things which they suffer. …
But I speak concerning my churches abroad—there are many who will say: Where is their God? Behold, he will deliver them in time of trouble, otherwise we will not go up unto Zion, and will keep our moneys.
Therefore, in consequence of the transgressions of my people, it is expedient in me that mine elders should wait for a little season for the redemption of Zion—
That they themselves may be prepared, and that my people may be taught more perfectly, and have experience, and know more perfectly concerning their duty, and the things which I require at their hands.
What are the “principles of the law of the celestial kingdom” the Lord had commanded?
Simply summarizing all ordinances and covenants effecting Jesus Christ’s salvation of mankind, the law of the celestial kingdom is this.
That is overwhelming viewed through eyes of natural man weakness. However, viewed through eyes trying to comprehend the Father’s work and glory, that statement sparks hope and a realization that the Father and His Beloved Son believe we can do it—believe I can do it! The Savior marked the path and led the way back to the Father.
The scriptures give examples of people wallowing in sin who became Zion’s citizens! Through the grace of Jesus Christ, they overcame the world and entered Zion.
Characteristics of Zion’s Citizens
What are Zion’s citizens like? Amongst other glorious characteristics listed in Doctrine and Covenants 76, inhabitants of Zion are:
They who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given—
That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power;
And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.
They are they who are the church of the Firstborn.
They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things—
They are they who are priests and kings, who have received of his fulness, and of his glory …
These are they who are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly place, the holiest of all.
These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood.
Our Savior promises that through His grace, all things are possible—even the changing of our fallen natures to become Zion’s citizens.