Linking Scriptures – Part II

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Once I came to the realization that the Book of Mormon was everything that the Prophet Joseph said it was, that is, a second witness for Christ, my eyes seemed to open more, each time I read those scriptures.

Now that we know the importance that Christ plays in the eternal scheme of things, we can appreciate more the principle that the Prophet Joseph espoused. That is: The fundamental principles of our religion are those things that are incorporated in the atonement, and everything else is an appendage to it.

The principles now become more clear whether we read the Old Testament and the principles surrounding the altar etc., or the New Testament where the Saviour iterates over and over again in John how He came to do the will of His Father, to say those things that the Father would say, and to do the things the Father would do.
His statements regarding His sheep are made more clear. The things we must do to be saved are made more clear.

Now I would like to share some thoughts that to some may seem quite radical, and to others more reassuring.

In 3Ne:11:32-40 the Saviour lays out His doctrine. Somehow in the Church we have become so focused on works that we miss the principle. (I often wonder if the reason so many saints don’t do missionary work is because they feel the Gospel is so onerous that they will never make it to the Celestial Kingdom, so why should they share this heavy burden with others if it will only make them miserable as well. As a people, we get very depressed very easily.)

The principle is this, as taught by the Saviour in John 6:29. After being asked what they must do to work the works of God, He answered: “…This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”

Think about that scripture for a minute, and then reflect on what the Saviour said in 3Ne. But wait a minute. Aren’t we supposed to demonstrate that we are following the Saviour by the works we do. Absolutely. But the way we arrive at that point is perfectly illustrated in Lehi’s dream of the Tree of Life.

Notice that the Tree of Life and the Fountain of Living Waters both represent the love of God. If John 3:16 is taken into account here, then we know that the love of God is tied up in the atonement. Alma5:34 says that if we partake “of the fruit of the tree of life; yea, ye shall eat and drink of the bread and the waters of life freely;” .

The whole purpose of Lehi’s dream was to illustrate the coming to Christ and accepting Him.

Alma 32 is a favourite in terms of trying to explain how one gets faith. Notice, though, that the seed we are to plant is not given to us until Alma 33:22 where it states: “…begin to believe in the Son of God, that He will come to redeem His people, and that he shall suffer and die to atone for their sins; and that he shall rise again from the dead, which shall bring to pass the resurrection, that all men shall stand before him, to be judged at the last and judgment day, according to their works.”

If you remember John 6, then look at verses 14-21 in Alma 33.
The way is easy and it is clearly marked. Then what about works?

In Lehi’s dream, his arrival at the tree was a process, but the focus was always on the tree, or in other words, the atonement. Alma 32 and 33 illustrate for us what we need to focus on and the need to stay focused as the children of Israel did when the fiery serpents came among them.

What does this have to do with works? An interesting thing happened to Lehi after he partook of the fruit, or in other words, after he accepted the atonement and internalized it. He wanted to share it.

Once we understand the power that the atonement has in our lives, and the need we have for a Saviour, there is a remarkable transformation that takes place in our lives. We want to live Christ-like lives, not just as duty, but out of the pure love of Christ and what He did for us. Then responsibilities in the Church are not onerous, but rather acts of love. In this way we partake of the joy that Lehi talks about in 2Ne.2:25, where he tells us that “man is that he might have joy.” The fall is illustrated in the first half of that scripture, while the atonement is illustrated in the second half. (It is worth noting that virtually every reference to joy, in the scriptures, is tied to the atonement.)

Once we trust in the Saviour, then His promises become real. Then we have the certitude that our hope is not in vain, but anchored firmly in His love, which is the atonement. Then we become filled with charity, which is the pure love of Christ. Notice in Moroni 8 that faith, hope and charity cannot be separated. Alma 32:35 calls it” light” which ties us back into D&C50:24; D&C84:45; D&C88:13 etc. It’s all atonement stuff.

Now, when we preach the gospel, it becomes a sharing of a great love and blessing that is real_ not the burden so many of us view it as.

Our willingness to do the work of the Lord increases (line upon line etc.) and our willingness to accept the Lord’s plan, and to seek His counsel and guidance in all that we do (without surrendering our agency) increases as well.

So, what is the principle. Not on lecturing each other how to be better home teachers, or mothers, or fathers, and letting everyone feel totally inadequate, but rather on looking to the Saviour and the atonement that He wrought on our behalf. By doing this we invite the Spirit into our lives and He assists in our growth and development. The important point though, as taught by the Saviour in the Parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard, in Matthew 20, is, that all who turn to Him, and accept Him, receive the same reward – eternal life – regardless of where they are on the ladder leading to His kingdom. So, if you’ve been baptized etc., and are doing the best you know how, in spite of your failings and weaknesses, you are going to the Celestial Kingdom_so get over it, and get on with it….and smile.

We can go further in the scriptures to show how each of us is different and not of equal intelligence, but will inherit the same blessings.

8 thoughts on “Linking Scriptures – Part II

  1. All false religions, such as Mormonism, have to “add” to the Bible. Yours is a works religion, You must be save by faith in Jesus alone. The BOM will lead you to hell. Jesus is the only way not works or Joe Smith.

  2. Perhaps “the shy peddler” will one day look deeper into the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and sacrifice made by Jesus and then pray to be enlightened with the truth.

  3. Shy Peddler,
    Have you even read anything which Larry has written? To say that mormonism is a works religion shows a level ignorance to our doctrine. I have never known a Mormon who believed that they will be saved on their own merit. Perhaps you should consult with soem LDS before you make definitive statements of what LDS believe?

  4. Thanks for this Larry. It is a good post.

    In a meeting recently, our bishop stated that while many are motivated to action by fear or reward, he hoped that we would be motivated by love.

    I think you have encapsulated his thoughts perfectly with the scriptures.

  5. Larry,

    This post is good and timely.
    as you may have gathered by reading some of my comments on other blogs, I’ve struggle with an anxiety disorder of sorts over the last couple of years. With such, the expectations that I place upon myself because of a bass-ackwards way of living the gospel (ie, do it until you feel like doing it) can be quite painful–even to the point being psychologically traumatizing. No joke!

    I think it’s important for us to remember that, while we are required to do our best, out best really isn’t very good. I like what Hugh Nibley said (in so many words), that none of us is very smart or strong or courageous or even virtuous(!), so why get hung up on how poorly we’re doing? It really does boil down to faith in Christ–believing that He’ll sustain us.

    Also, I think when we become overly focused on works that we tend to build a belief within ourselves that we are unacceptable to the Lord. We forget that if the Spirit is a striving with us that this should be a sign that the Lord accepts us–even with all our weaknesses. You cannot receive a remission of sins without receiving the Holy Ghost.

    Jack

  6. This is a great post!! I find I do that all the time when I am reading the scriptures… I end up going \back and forth so many times with the references etc that I end up losing my place of where I started from. It amazes me still to this say of how the scriptures are so inter related.

    It just proves to me that all of our scriptures, the Testaments, the Book of Mormon and the D&C all work hand in hand. Thank you for this post

  7. Jack,

    You make a good point. The interesting thing is that we often don’t even know the Holy Ghost is working with us. He is required, though, to have our sins burned out of us.
    In saying that we don’t often know He is with us, it is important to understand that when we think He is not, we are playing on the devil’s territory, because he would have us believe we are not worthy.
    The other important issue is doing our best. How do we measure that? Is it by how we feel? Can’t be. Is it by what we think? I believe that is unreliable too?
    I believe that the reason the Lord looks upon the heart is that it is far enough away, and deep enough, to be beyond tampering, even by ourselves.
    With all the adversity that mortality brings to some, some brought on by genetics, some by environment, and some by ourselves, it can be too onerous for us to do effective self analysis. We do become hyper-critical. Consequently we create a hell often, instead of a heaven on earth.
    That is why I place so much emphasis on pre-earth existence.
    Mortality takes on a whole different perspective for me than most Church members. I do not believe that we are here to “prove” ourselves as some would define it (that’s why I used scare qoutes).
    The essential nature of mortality, to me, is to gain a body and gain experience. This is the Lord’s plan. We are willingly participating in it because of what He has to offer. The greatest blessing that one can have in mortality, is to know that Jesus is the Christ, that He suffered and died for us, and was resurrected, thus enabling us to live forever.
    The right (?) to that testimony was earned in the pre-earth life where we exercised our agency and chose to be valiant or not.
    When we read John 10:25-29, there is not much doubt in my mind He knows who we are.

    That is why we go to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, – to gather scattered Israel.
    His promises to those who choose Him is eternal life. It doesn’t come with ands, ifs or buts, but rather with a sure knowledge that we will be exalted.
    Mortality is the 2nd act in a 3 act play (I believe Bro. Packer used that analogy). It has a part but it is not the whole part.

    Back to this being God’s plan; if we are placed in the circumstances we are, on an ad hoc basis, and we all have to become as close to perfect as the best person we are aware of, in order to be saved, then there is no justice and no mercy.
    If on the other hand this is God’s plan, and He knows all, including who we are, what our faithfulness was in the pre-earth sphere, and we rejoiced when it was presented to us, then the purpose here is exactly as illustrated in the temple.
    Those who were faithful there, get to make covenants here (including the spirit world) and all will rejoice.

    My mind was working at a frenetic pace as I was doing this under a time constraint. I hope it makes sense.

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