Monday, May 1, 2017

By mine Only Begotten I created these things...

Genesis 1:1
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Moses 2:1
And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I reveal unto you concerning this heaven, and this earth; write the words which I speak. I am the Beginning and the End, the Almighty God; by mine Only I created these things; yea in the beginning I created the heaven, and the earth upon which thou standest.

Ephesians 3:9 
And to make all men se what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ. 

Hebrews 1:2
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds

Why is it so significant that Jesus Christ created the universe under the direction of our Heavenly Father? For a few reasons, starting with the idea that, like our Savior, we too can someday create worlds without end under our Father's direction. The powers of creation can be extended to all; they're not God's exclusively. By recognizing the Savior's role in creation, it becomes evident that God does not reserve His power for himself.

Additionally, the Savior's role in creation provides an example of how Christ's purpose so perfectly aligns with our Heavenly Father's. They are truly one. If the Savior commands us to be "Even as I am," then we must attempt to become that in sync with our father's will. Only in doing so can our fullest (see above paragraph) be reached.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Psalm 118:22 The Head Stone of the Corner

17 I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord
18 The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death
19 Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord:
20 This gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter
21 I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.
22 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.
Christ is the cornerstone of the gate through which Eternal Life is obtained. Without Him, the gate collapses; the Plan of Salvation ceases to exist and we are all condemned to Eternal darkness. Because he takes on the burden of holding  up that gate, however, everyone shall have a chance to pass through it. Even those who once denied that the cornerstone was needed.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

1 Samuel 2:2 - No Rock Like Our God

2 There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.
One of the most interesting aspects of this verse is that it is said in the middle of a prayer. It comes across as preaching, yet in actuality, it is praise. It is recognition of His support for His people. He is the rock, and he cannot be substituted with anyone else. He is the only way.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Deuteronomy 32:15 - Esteeming the Rock of Salvation

4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgement: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right he is
15 But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.
16 They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger.
17 They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.
18 Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.
19 And when the Lord saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters
Deuteronomy 32:4 explains that "the Rock" is the Rock because he is perfect. He is unchanging. He is the foundation upon which all should be built. The chapter then goes on to explain the laziness of the Lord's people and their unwillingness to worship God and find truth. The Lord stirs up His anger against them and they are no longer given the chance to know Him.
What do we learn from this? Eternal law is unchanging. Just because we wish one thing was a different way, that doesn't mean the other is done exactly the same.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Alma 5:34 - Drink of the Bread & Waters of Life Freely

34 Yea, he saith: Come unto me and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life; yea, ye shall eat and drink the bread and the waters of life freely.
2 Nephi 9 tells us that there is no price to partaking of Christ's Atonement (2 Ne 9:50-51).  His Atonement is a gift. Furthermore, it is incorruptible. It will not rust or lose its value over time, but rather is totally consistent. It works the same as it did yesterday and will continue to work the same tomorrow. The only thing he requires of us is that we accept the gift (come unto him) and obey his commandments.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Revelations 2:17 - I give to eat of the hidden manna

17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

John 6:35 - The Bread of Life

35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
 In the Topical Guide under Bread of Life, it's suggested that readers "See also Sacrament." By declaring himself the bread of life, Christ is essentially saying that through him, all men can be sustained. Christ's Atoning sacrifice enabled the salvation of every human being that has ever lived. In a sense, he nourishes the soul, providing strength to resist temptation and healing from sin.
38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
39 And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
 Heavenly Father's will is that Christ overcome death, enabling the resurrection for all, and that he provide a means by which everyone can return to live with Him again someday,

Monday, April 10, 2017

Moses 6:52 - Turn, Hearken, Believe, Repent, be Baptized, Receive

52 And he also said unto him: If thou wilt turn unto me, and heaken unto my voice, and believe, and repent of all thy transgressions, and be baptized, even in water, in the name of mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth, which is Jesus Christ, the only name which shall be given under heaven, whereby salvation shall come unto the children of men, ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, asking all things in his name, and whatsoever ye shall ask, it shall be given you. 
In Verse 52, Enoch outlines the process by which we can be saved and cleansed. We must turn unto Heavenly Father and hear Him. Then we must believe and ask forgiveness, and then be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Having done those things, we then receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

55 And the Lord spake unto Adam, saying: And the Lord spake unto Adam, saying: Inasmuch as thy children are conceived in sin, even so when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts, and they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good.
57 Wherefore teach it unto your children, that all men everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence; for in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man, even Jesus Christ, a righteous Judge who shall come in the meridian of time.
Teach it unto your children. What an awesome and epic responsibility. It's a daunting task, even for me, and I'm not even married, let alone have kids! I find it interesting when Enoch states that "sin conceiveth in their hearts." Because we are born in sin, we can not abandon sin, no matter how hard we might try. As human beings, sin is in our hearts. It blossoms and blooms and captivates, and it is our individual and collective responsibility to ensure that it does not consume us. How? Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, His only begotten.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

D&C 59:5 - In the name of Jesus Christ...

5 Wherefore, I give unto them a commandment saying thus: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy might, mind, and strength; and in the name of Jesus Christ thou shalt serve him.

Why are we commanded to serve the Lord in the name of Jesus Christ? What does that mean?

In the Bible Dictionary under the word, "Prayer," we learn that
Christians are taught to pray in Christ's name. We pray in Christ's name when our mind is the mind of Christ, and our wishes the wishes of Christ -- when His word abide in us. We then ask for things it is possible for God to Grant.
Given the passage above, it stands to reason that we are commanded to serve God in Christ's name so that our service is precisely as Christ's service. Our goal is to serve with the same purposes that Christ served for.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Ether 3:13-19 Because thou knowest...

13 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
If faith is a hope for things which are not seen, but which are true, then based on the quote above,  the brother of Jared was beyond faith even upon his initial conversation with the Lord. Christ said, "Because thou knowest these things...I show myself unto you" (Ether 3:13). Jared's brother knew. He didn't hope, and it didn't matter that the Lord was not seen; somehow, all that mattered to him was that he had witnessed enough to know God the Son.

 14 Behold I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters. 
What does it mean to be both the Father & the Son? The footnote next to the word "Father" directs readers to Mosiah 15:2-4, which reads,
"And because he dwelleth in the flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son - The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God, and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son - And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth."
So in addition to being conceived by Heavenly Father's power, it is Christ's submission to God's will is what makes Him both "the Father and the Son." Specifically, it's the flesh seems to play a key role, likely because it was necessary for Christ to live on earth in order to act according to God's will.

Could it also be that, the fact that the Savior created both the Heavens and the earth makes him a "Father?" He created life under Heavenly Father's supervision; the creation of life makes him a father.

Two other scriptures of importance...
15 And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast. Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image.
19 And because of the knowledge of this man he could not be kept from beholding within the veil; and he saw the finger of Jesus...and he had faith no longer, for He knew, nothing doubting. 
 Just as the First Vision provided us with the knowledge of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ's bodies, so too does the brother of Jared's account of Christ. What's most remarkable is that Jared's brother was the first up to that point to ever have seen Christ's body.

A final point: once again, notice how important the brother of Jared's absolute knowledge of Christ is. The Lord tells him that He revealed Himself to him because he "believed in me as thou hast," and "He knew, nothing doubting" (Ether 3:15; 19).

Monday, April 3, 2017

Ether 2:12 - If they will but serve Christ

12 Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of this land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.
Two things stand out in the verse above. The first: Christ is the "God of this land" (Ether 2:12).  The second: This land could very much represent the Celestial Kingdom. These two concepts work hand in hand, really.
Christ is declared the God of this land. But isn't Christ the God of all the earth and of all mankind? Why take the time to point specifically at this land and declare Christ as the God of it? Likely because this land is promised. It is choice above all other lands. It has been especially set aside for the righteous and holy.
So what does this have to do with the Celestial Kingdom? Well, think about it; Christ is the God of this land, which has been especially set aside for His people and for the righteous. Those who practice iniquity will be wiped from off of the face of it. Likewise, we become celestial beings as we serve the master and seek after His will. The Celestial Kingdom has been especially set aside for those whom accept the gospel and live the commandments.

3 Nephi 9:15 - I am Jesus Christ the Son of God

15 Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name.
If there is one thing that can be learned from the above verse, it is that everything that Christ does is Heavenly Father's will. From the creation of the universe, to His Atoning sacrifice, He has been "with the Father from the beginning" (3 Ne 9:15). He requires of us to be more like Him, meaning we must be with the Father in all that we do as well.

19 And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings.
20 And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit...
The Savior has given us everything, yet expects next to nothing in return. Think about the humility that He shows here. "I do not want offerings, I simply want you to try to be a little kinder to one another. Just try to love one another, and serve one another." How remarkable.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

2 Nephi 25:19 - Messiah...his name shall be Jesus Christ

19 For according to the words of the prophets, the Messiah cometh in six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem; and according to the words of the prophets, and also the word of the angel of God, his name shall be Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Messiah. The verse above makes it obvious that Christ is the Messiah, but few details are given otherwise. The footnote for 19a leads to "Jesus Christ, Betrayal of" in the Topical Guide, as well as "Jesus Christ, Birth of" (2 Ne 25:19). That would lead one to believe that the name "Messiah" was given to Him because of His birth and His death. Given that this chapter is specifically directed at practicing Jews, and Jews were looking for a warrior in their Savior, it it interesting that the term Messiah focuses on the two points in His life at which Christ was probably at His most vulnerable; when He was a baby, and when He was on the cross. Yet these two moments of vulnerability and humility were perhaps the most powerful of His entire life. They were both miraculous, and it was because of both times that man will once again be able to live with his Father in Heaven.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Hebrews 13:8 The same today, tomorrow, and forever...

Marriage is honorable - Christ is the Same everlastingly.
4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. 

Notice how the heading makes note of verse four; "Marriage is honorable" (Hebrews 13). In relation to Christ, this verse is all about His everlasting-ness. He is eternal, "the same today, tomorrow, and forever." Just as the Savior and His Atonement last forever, so too does the ordinance of marriage. Jesus' binds to us through His Atonement will never fade or disappear. He will always be there, and He will always rescue us from our sins. The binds of marriage are also always there. Husband and wife will always be one; they will always be expected to love, nurture, build, and care for one another. In fact,, in some sense, the ways which Christ builds each of us is emulated in the marriage relationship.

8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
 The word "same" leads one to "God, Eternal Nature of," in the Topical Guide. The very first scripture listed is Deuteronomy chapter 33 verse 27, which reads, "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms..." (Deut. 33:27). "The eternal God is thy refuge." What a remarkable statement. He is eternal. He is "the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever" (Heb. 13:8). He loves us, blesses us, and desires to provide us with more than we can ever begin to comprehend. He expects a lot of us, but not more than we can handle. He prepared a way for Nephi; for Moses and for Joseph in Egypt, for Moroni and Ester and so many countless others, and because we know He doesn't change, we know He's prepared a way for us too.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Hebrews 12:2 - The author and finisher of our faith

2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

"Run with patience the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1). Hebrews Chapter 12 begins. Run "looking unto Jesus" (Hebrews 12:2). He created all that we have, and all that we see; even our faith.

5 Despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and sourgeth every son whom he receiveth

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Hebrews 4:14 - Great high priest...Jesus the Son of God

8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.
9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 

What an interesting passage. Early on in Chapter 4, it's discussed that the Gospel was offered to the early Israelites, but that they did not have the faith necessary to know it was true. The discussion then turns to the topic of rest; the Israelites expected that their Savior would rescue them from their struggles and labors, and would squash their enemies. Christ was the exact opposite of what they had hoped for. The Savior preached love and peace. He came to the earth in the humblest of ways, and never once acted as though He were a king. He then willingly gave Himself up in order to fulfill His Atonement and die for our sins. The Atonement is a two-way contract, however. We have to be willing to put in the work in order for it to work. We must exercise the necessary faith in Him so that we can repent and find joy in this world. We should not, as the Israelites did, expect to be rescued from our labors, but rather, we should endure to the end, overcoming our labors with the help of Jesus Christ.

14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
Picking up where the last paragraph left off: No one should expect life to be easy because of the Atonement. With that said, the Atonement does make it bearable. We must "hold fast our profession," and our faith, and labor for and with Christ so that we can return to our Heavenly Father someday.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Hebrews 2:9 - Made a little lower than the angels...

9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
What could the phrase, "made a little lower than the angels," possibly mean, and how could Christ, the Savior of the world, the King of Kings, even the Son of God be made lower than anyone? He created the Heavens and the Earth. He is the Master; every soul to ever walk the earth owes Him everything, yet He asks for nothing. 

Reference A leads to "Jesus Christ, Condescension of," in the Topical Guide. There, the first scripture referenced is Psalm 113:6, which reads, "Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth!" (Psalm 113:6). Isaiah 50:6 is also listed, a verse where the Savior says to Isaiah, "I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; I hid not my face from shame and spitting" (Isaiah 50:6). Given these two scriptures, the word "lower" is referring to Jesus' humility. He came to the earth as the Son of God to experience life and all of its temptations as a mortal. He was used, abused, ridiculed, mocked, and tortured, yet he condemned no one, instead asking his Father to forgive all.

Perhaps the word "lower" also refers to the fact that the Savior "came down from heaven, not to do [his] own will, but the will of him that sent [him]" (John 6:38). In lowering Himself, Christ not only subjected himself to the cruelties of man, He subjected Himself to the will of our Heavenly Father. Christ's Atonement was apart of Heavenly Father's Plan of Happiness from the very beginning. Jesus knew His purpose, and despite having the ability to call it off, he opted instead to suffer for our sins, so that we might have agency. He "lowered" himself and his position before the Father so that we might learn and grow. 

Ultimately, perhaps the best way to understand the word lower comes from the reference B, found by the word "angels." There one will find Philippians 2:7-8. The scripture explains that the Savior came to earth with out great pomp and circumstance. Born in a manger to a carpenter and his fiance, Christ came in one of the humblest of ways. His purpose? As mentioned above, it is to serve each of us, sacrificing himself so that we might live. Imagine that;"And being found in a fashion s a man," verse 8 reads, "he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:8). Christ loves each of us so profoundly, He was willing to forego His pleasure for our salvation. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

2 Tim 2:8 - Comfort & Joy

3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ
7 Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.
8 Remember that Jesus Christ of the seek of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel
11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him

2 Timothy 2 is a chapter of comfort. Endure as a soldier of Christ, the Lord gives understanding, if we die with him, we will live in him. We have nothing to fear as long as our faith is in Christ and in Heavenly Father. As long as we seek him we will be alright.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Philip 2:11 Every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord

11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

  • If the whole world were like Rexburg, ID, I have a feeling it would be described in a manner similar to the scripture above.

14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings;
15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world

  • Specifically, verse 14 is talking about doing the Lord's will without murmurings and disputings. Disputations are of the adversary; when rebuke, anger or frustration begin to fill the mind and heart, there is no room for the Holy Ghost. 
  • In addition to disputations with others, it is equally important that there are no disputations within ourselves. We should not doubt truth, and we should argue back and forth with ourselves over what is right vs wrong. We need to trust in the Lord and follow the Spirit. 
  • When we agree with our adversary and put aside petty differences, there is a difference in our countenance and spirit. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Philip 2:10 - Every knee should bow

2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

The church must be "of one mind." Every member must think and pray and work things out in their mind in an effort to understand Heavenly Father's will. When members do this, they are more likely to appreciate and understand that A) this is Christ's church restored to the earth, and B) that Heavenly Father and the Savior are always consistent with the commandments given to His children.

10 That at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things in earth, and things under the earth.

"Every knee should bow." What better way to be "of one mind" than for every knee to bow?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Eph 2:20 - The Chief Corner Stone

6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

The Savior's Atonement raised each and everyone of us "up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." What does it mean to sit in heavenly places together? If no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God, and God is in heaven, and through Christ's grace, we were raised to a heavenly standard which we are expected to maintain, it means that Heavenly Father expects us to live as though we were in a heavenly place. We are to make life on this earth as heavenly as possible, for all of His children. We were lifted together; He wants us to truly love all men.

20 And are built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone

Christ is the cornerstone upon which we can build a testimony of all aspects of the gospel; prophets, apostles, tithing, prayer, etc. Without Him and His sacrifice, none of those things would matter. The church, its organization, and all things which we do collapse without the Savior and His grace.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

1 Cor. 12:3 - "but by the Holy Ghost..."

3 Wherefore I give unto you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

Testimony and knowledge comes from the Spirit. By no other means can anyone know that Christ is the Savior of all mankind.

11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

Why are we all given different gifts and talents and abilities? Why not just provide everyone the same gift? We must rely on one another. Through reliance comes empathy, love, and understanding; when we need each other in order to understand the Lord's will or whatever situation we may be in, we gain a greater ability to learn Christ-like love.

Furthermore, when we are baptized, we join Christ's church. We become a member of His organization; what better way to understand that this is His work than by forcing all members to work together to love and lift and save?

Friday, March 10, 2017

Corinthians 2:2 - I determined to know Jesus Christ

2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit of power
5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
8 Which none of the princes of this world knew; for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

It is so difficult to let go. Life is always changing; things never stay the same for very long. Yet so often, it is much easier to cling to the way things were rather than look forward to the way things could be. Why is that? Why is it so difficult to put trust and faith in the Lord? Why is it so much easier to put our faith in the "wisdom of men?"

Having faith means trusting in the Lord's plan for us. It means allowing the Lord to work the miracles in our life that He knows we need. It means doing all in our power to align our wills with His will, regardless of whether His will includes our desires. It's not an easy thing to master, but hey, practice makes perfect, right?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Romans 6:3 - Baptism into Jesus Christ

3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.
6 ...our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed...
7 For he that is dead is freed from sin

Baptism is often compared to the resurrection, made possible by the Savior's Atonement. When one is submerged under the water, they have experienced "death." Rising out of the water, they are "resurrected." Finally the conferring of the Gift of the Holy Ghost is similar to dwelling in Heavenly Father's presence at all times and in all places.

Romans Chapter 6, however, explains baptism in a much more literal way. It states that in agreeing to be baptized, we take upon ourselves Christ's name. In doing so, we also take upon ourselves his death, as well as his resurrection. Baptism, in other words, enables us to draw nearer to Christ.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Ether 3:1-14 - "Lord, show thyself unto me."

After the Lord reveals himself unto the brother of Jared, having touched the stones in order to provide a source of light for those in the vessels, He explains that Jared’s brother’s faithfulness is what enabled him to see God. Indeed, his faith was so strong, that Christ proclaims, “never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast” (Ether 3:9). The veil was removed from the brother of Jared’s eyes, and eventually, the Lord fully revealed Himself unto Jared’s brother.

            This chapter begins with the prayer that the brother of Jared recites when calling upon the Lord. Standing out most, to me, is the importance of faith if we want our prayers answered. Before revealing his full body, God asks the brother of Jared a series of questions regarding faith. It is because of his answers that the Lord shows Himself. It’s also mentioned that, after seeing the Lord’s hand, the brother of Jared falls down in fear, to which the Lord responds, “Arise, why hast thou fallen?” (Ether 3:7). In all that we do, the Lord is there to encourage us to “arise.” In some situations we must rely entirely on the Savior in order to do so; in others we can rely on ourselves. Regardless, He does not want us to be tossed about the depths of a sea of fear and despair, but prefers that we raise ourselves closer to His level.

Ether 2 - "What will ye that I should do?"

The Lord prepares the brother of Jared and his family for the Promised Land in Ether 2, providing them directions through the wilderness and instructions on how to build barges which could take them across the sea. It’s mentioned that the Lord has preserved the “land of promise” for a “righteous people,” and that whoever is given possession of the land, “from that time henceforth and forever, should serve…the true and only God” (Ether 2:8). When the people of the land no longer serve God and are “ripened in their iniquity,” God’s wrath shall fall upon them, and they “shall be swept off” of the face of the land (Ether 2:11). Furthermore, the Lord promises that any nation occupying this land shall maintain freedom and liberty, so long as they continually serve Christ.
            It’s difficult to determine whether or not historical events can be deemed the “wrath of God” or not. Clearly throughout history, the American continent has managed to maintain freedom, even at times of World War. Still, there are moments where it’s clear that we have paid for our sins, most notably during the American Civil War. Regardless, we have reason to be a hopeful people, given these covenants which the Lord makes with Jared. This is a blessed and promised land and will always be a land of liberty so long as we serve God; what an incredible thought. While I understand the concern so many have regarding America’s religiosity, given that a recent Pew or Gallup survey (I forget which) found that more than 80% of Americans still pray daily, I think we haven’t drifted too far just yet.  
A Few Other Thoughts…
·         The brother of Jared, apparently, fails to call upon the Lord for four years. How? Beats me. For a guy who has literally spoken to Christ and heard His voice, it’s amazing that he forgot to pray. Apparently, the Lord agreed, as He chastens him for failing to call upon Him. He mentions that the brother of Jared is forgiven this time, but that he should not sin again, for if he does, he will lose the Land of Promise. Clearly constant communication with God is important should we hope to maintain our liberty.

·         When the brother of Jared asks the Lord how they should light the barges which they have built, the Lord responds, “What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels?” (Ether 2:23). The lesson here? When we pray, the answer to our prayers is so often simple and right in front of us. While Heavenly Father and the Savior provides us direction, we do have agency, and there’s no reason for them to offer solutions to every single solitary issue. God sent us to earth because He trusts us; He knows that we have the gifts and talents necessary to endure life on this earth. So long as our decisions are in compliance with His Gospel and laws, there are times where he may simply want us to make a decision ourselves.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Ether 1 - Inquire of the Lord

I find it curious as to why we do not know the brother of Jared’s name. I wonder if it’s to offer readers a chance to recognize and understand the example of Jared’s faith and humility. We know Jared’s name, and we know the Jaredites are to be named after him; he’s clearly a leader and is to become a powerful man. Yet we also know that Jared is not the one who is “highly favored of the Lord,” and that he relies on his brother for revelation and communication with God. Given these facts, the fact that he didn’t go all “Laman and Lemual” on everyone says a lot about Jared’s character. It also tells us quite a bit about his faith, as he was totally reliant on his brother for answers, never doubting the things which he suggested.
When it comes to that revelation received by the Brother of Jared in Ether 1, a pattern has developed. Jared instructs his brother to “Go and inquire of the Lord,” after which he does (Ether 1:34). He then returns to Jared with an answer (Ether 41). The key to this pattern is that Jared acts in faith and suggests that his brother pray for answers; they go to the Lord, they don’t wait for the Lord to come to them. At one point, Heavenly Father even says, “And thus I will do unto thee because this long time ye have cried unto me (Ether 1:41). We must ask the Lord and present Him with all things that dwell within our hearts and minds. Then will we receive confirmation of either comfort and peace or conflict and struggle regarding those things which we are inquiring of.

(Written January 2, 2016)