Personal Online Journal

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Unto but not Necessarily Into

A great lesson on what moral agency is and why God prizes it so.
Nephi taught, “When a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men.” Elder David A. Bednar noted the use of the word unto: “Please notice how the power of the Spirit carries the message unto but not necessarily into the heart. … Ultimately, … the content of a message and the witness of the Holy Ghost penetrate into the heart only if a receiver allows them to enter.”  
Why just unto the heart? Individual agency is so sacred that Heavenly Father will never force the human heart, even with all His infinite power. Man may try to do so, but God does not. To put it another way, God allows us to be the guardians, or the gatekeepers, of our own hearts. We must, of our own free will, open our hearts to the Spirit, for He will not force Himself upon us.
("Opening Our Hearts", Gerald N. Lund, April 2008)

Abigail, a Type and Shadow of Jesus Christ

The story of Abigail, Nabal and David in 1 Samuel 25 teaches forgiveness and repentance.

David felt insulted and challenged by Nabal. Nabal's wife, Abigail heard of what had happened and recognized that something bad may happen between David and Nabal. She gathered all that David may have thought was owed him from Nabal and perhaps more. She hurried to meet David who was on the road to get to Nabal.
And when Abigail saw David, she hasted, and lighted off the ass, and fell before David on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, And fell at his feet, and said, Upon me, my lord, upon me let this iniquity be: and let thine handmaid, I pray thee, speak in thine audience, and hear the words of thine handmaid.
I pray thee, forgive the trespass of thine handmaid
And David said to Abigail, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me: And blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand.
1 Samuel 25:23-24, 28, 32-33)
Abigail is a type or shadow of Christ in this story. She goes to David and says "forgive the trespass of thine handmaid" She comes between the offender and the offended and takes the role of the offender.  David recognizes that Abigail did nothing to offend him. He sees that she has all the he felt was owed to him. He freely forgives her and Nabal as well.

That is what Christ does for us. He comes between the sinner and the sinned against. He offers to pay the full price. The offender and the offended are offered the most precious of gifts, forgiveness.

And it is not only material recompense Jesus offers. He can heal our souls. He offers the balm of Gilead. We can be made whole. He offers every good gift. He gives all that He has. And asks that we, the forgiven, to do the same.

After All We Can Do

We had a discussion in Sunday School about 2 Nephi 25:23 "For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do."

This morning, I was listening to "All About You" and album of Kenneth Cope.  It has so many messages that bring my mind to the principle that Nephi was teaching.  I wrote about the mathematics of the infinite and eternal a while back. The balance of faith and works is one of the doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ that continues to amaze me.

I also like what Robert Millet says about this passage
Too often we are prone to view grace as that increment of goodness, that final gift of God that will make up the difference and thereby boost us into the celestial kingdom, "after all we can do" (2 Nephi 25:23). To be sure, we will need a full measure of divine assistance to become celestial material. But the grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, is available to us every hour of every day of our lives.
The grace of Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ enables me to keep moving, keep working. I am free from being overwhelmed by the perfect example I am striving to follow. It is miraculous in that I am forgiven of my sins. I do not have to be burdened by the effects of my sin and the sin of others. I am free to progress, to grow, to ultimately become like my Father is. 1

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Why Do We Need Prophets?

I love the message from the First Presidency this month, "Why Do We Need Prophets?" I thought of this passage as I started to read it.
Moroni 7:21-25 And now I come to that faith, of which I said I would speak; and I will tell you the way whereby ye may lay hold on every good thing.
For behold, God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting, behold, he sent angels to minister unto the children of men, to make manifest concerning the coming of Christ; and in Christ there should come every good thing.
And God also declared unto prophets, by his own mouth, that Christ should come.
And behold, there were divers ways that he did manifest things unto the children of men, which were good; and all things which are good cometh of Christ; otherwise men were fallen, and there could no good thing come unto them.
Wherefore, by the ministering of angels, and by every word which proceeded forth out of the mouth of God, men began to exercise faith in Christ; and thus by faith, they did lay hold upon every good thing; and thus it was until the coming of Christ.

Each part in the largest print I put methods that God has used to get women and men to exercise faith in Jesus Christ.

1. He sent angels. What a glorious fact! God sends angels to minister. To come personally to the children of men for the purpose of directing us to the Son of God.
2. He declared unto prophets that Christ should come.
3. He used diverse ways to manifest things that are good and all good comes from Christ.

Here are three ways God directs us to Jesus. We need prophets and prophets always point us to Jesus Christ the Son of God. The Savior of our souls. I am grateful for the mercy of God that we again have prophets of God on the earth. I listen to their words to hear how I might come unto Christ completely.

How do I know what is true?

This is a cardinal question. If I am deceived I will follow a path of pain and sorrow. Loneliness and and frustration.

My mind goes to this advice from a prophet a thousand years ago.

 Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil. For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night. 
For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God. But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.
And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged. 
Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ. (Mor 7:14-19)
 I know of no wiser words to direct me in the path of truth. I have found it invaluable in recognizing truth from error.