Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Gold Plates Found in Bulgaria

I read a very interesting news article this morning about gold plates that were found in Bulgaria. This is very interesting to Latter-Day Saints who believe that the Book of Mormon was recorded by Prophets on the American continents on plates of gold. Click here to read the full news story.

The Gift of Agency

The question was raised recently about why God allows people to do bad things. To answer this question, we must go back, before this world was created. We must go back to one of the reasons for our life on this Earth.

In Job 38:1-7 we read, "Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" God Himself, is speaking of our existence before this world was created. When He created the Earth, all the sons of God shouted for joy. We existed before coming to this Earth.

When we were in heaven, a council was held to discuss our coming to this Earth and how we would make it back to heaven after this earth life is over. The Bible doesn't give us much information concering this event, but what it does tell us is that there was a war in heaven: "And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels," Revelations 12:7 What was it that caused the war? What were we fighting about? As part of our church's scripture, we have an account from the book of Moses that talks about this war in heaven. "And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor. But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever. Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down;" Moses 4:1-3 The plan of salvation had been presented. Jesus had offered to come and offer himself as a ransom for our sins. As part of this plan, we would be allowed free agency, the chance to choose for ourselves. Jesus didn't seek this position for glory for Himself, but offered that glory to the Father. Satan, however, had a much different plan. He sought to take away the agency of all men. His plan was to force us to obey the commandments. All he asked in return was that he be given the glory for doing this task. Isaiah also speaks of this event. "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the amost High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit." Isaiah 14:12-15

This issue of agency was very important to us all. This life is a sort of testing ground for us. This idea of our needing to "prove" ourselves is common in the scriptures. When the children of Israel were wandering in the wilderness, the Lord said to Moses, "Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no." Exodus 16:4 So too, this life was given us to prove if we will walk in His law or not, and whether or not we are worthy to live with God again.

I often liken this idea to when I tried to train my dog to stay off the couch. I had decided that because he was so large, and shed so much, I didn't want him to sit on my couches. I taught him to stay off the couches, and if I saw him there, I would reprimand him, and he would slink off to the floor. However, the real "proof" of his obedience was whether or not he would obey when I wasn't around. This is the same type of situation in which we find ourselves here on Earth. God isn't physically present to make sure that we obey. In addition, we have no memory of living with God before this Earth life. This is necessary so that we can develop faith. Will we, when given a choice between what is right, and what is wrong, choose the right? This is the agency offered to us by Jesus Christ in the councils in heaven.

In order for us to have total agency, God must allow us to choose wrong. Unfortunately, there are victims in this process. If God did not allow us to choose wrong, then we could not be fully tested and proved. Often people question why God allows bad things to happen to good people. He allows it because He allows free agency. However what we must keep in mind is that God is just, and those who commit evil in this life, must pay the price at the judgement day. "Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment." Eccl. 11:9 While it is difficult to watch others use their agency to destroy, or to hurt others, it is comforting to know that they will receive judgement for their actions. It is also a blessing to know that we have the free agency to choose for ourselves. We can make of our life what we will.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

What is Success?

A speaker in church today reminded us of a quote by the Prophet David O. Mckay when he said, "No other success can compensate for failure in the home." We as parents should always take care that we don't put our worldly successes above our duties in the home. No job, no money, no title, no award can ever compensate if one of our children is lost due to our negligence.

The speaker today told about when he was called to preside over one of the missions of the church. The General church authority who issued this calling to him reminded him that though he might influence thousands of missionaries while serving in that position, he would never be able to live with himself, if his own son were lost due to neglect on his part.

This reminded me of a child birth show I saw recently. After giving birth, the wife discussed her plans to return to work as soon as possible. The father said, "It's hard for me to think about my child being in day care, but I know it's good for him to be with other kids.". I was astounded that he could even begin to equate the mother's influence with that of the other children this child would be with in day care. I know full well that many women must work outside the home. But I also know that many women work outside the home for the sole purpose of building a career for themselves. I can't help but wonder how these women will feel when their children are grown and gone, and they realize they missed out on the most important years of their lives. Truly, no success, no money, no career can ever compensate for the lack of parental supervision, love, and guidance in the home.
For more information on the family, please click here.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Ten Commandments

--Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

--Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

--Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

--Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

--Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee

--Thou shalt not kill.

--Thou shalt not commit adultery

--Thou shalt not steal.

--Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

--Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s. Exodus chapter 20

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Elevating Thoughts

Today in church, a speaker shared this story with us. (I hope I can remember it, my kids were acting up and I was shushing them). This story took place some time after the creation of the hot air balloon. Two men were flying in a balloon over the countryside. They had learned that to go up in the air, they needed to release one of the bags of sand that was attached to the side of the basket. They sailed for some time, and happened to see a man walking down a country road. They shouted to him from the basket, "Hello! Where are we?". The man cupped his hands to his mouth and shouted back, "You are in a hot air balloon!". The two men realized they might need to rephrase their question, so shouted back down to him, "Where are you?". The man cupped his hands to his mouth and shouted back, "I'm on the ground!". Frustrated, the two men released another sand back and sailed away. As they were flying away, the one man said to the other, "He must have been a bureaucrat. He answered our questions without saying much."

The speaker when on to talk about ways that we keep ourselves from spiritually gaining height, and what we can do to rid ourselves of the "baggage" that holds us down. He didn't bring out this point, but I kept thinking about the questions that the two men asked. "Where are we?" "Where are you?" Before we can decide where we need to be, we need to determine where we are.

I once read a talk on this subject. The speaker shared the story of Adam and Eve, and told how, "And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?" Genesis 3:9 God is omniscient, He knew what Adam and Eve had done, but he still asked the question, "Where art thou?". Where do we stand spiritually? Have we hid ourselves from God because we have done something we know we shouldn't have? God will never leave us, it is us that depart from Him.

The one sure way to lighten our load, and allow ourselves to soar spiritually is to lighten our load of sin. When we repent of things that we have done that are wrong, the grace of Jesus Christ cleanses us from that sin and from guilt.

The Book of Mormon teaches us of another consequence of sin. "And now, I say unto you, my brethren, that after ye have known and have been taught all these things, if ye should transgress and go contrary to that which has been spoken, that ye do withdraw yourselves from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in you to guide you in wisdom's paths that ye may be blessed, prospered, and preserved-- I say unto you, that the man that doeth this, the same cometh out in open rebellion against God; therefore he listeth to obey the evil spirit, and becometh an enemy to all righteousness; therefore, the Lord has no place in him, for he dwelleth not in unholy temples. " Mosiah 2:36,37. When we repent, we lighten our load, and give place for the spirit that can elevate us to greater heights.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Why Do You Believe in God?

I have several athiest friends who have given me their reasons for not believing in God. I would like to hear from some of you. Why do you believe in God?

Thought For the Day

The Ten Commandments are not multiple choice :)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Reflections of Christ

I found a couple of nice videos about the Savior. Click here and here

Sunday, April 13, 2008

How the Bible Came to Be

Long ago our church magazine published a series of articles by Lenet H. Read about how the Bible came to be. I thought they were wonderful, so wanted to share those links. Note, these are written with an LDS audience in mind.
How the Bible came to be Part 1
How the Bible came to be Part 2
How the Bible came to be Part 3
How the Bible came to be Part 4
How the Bible came to be Part 5
How the Bible came to be Part 6
How the Bible came to be Part 7
How the Bible came to be Part 8

The Sacrament

Wikpedia explanation of the LDS view of the Sacrament:

"Among Latter Day Saints (or Mormons), the Eucharist (in LDS theology it is "The Sacrament") is partaken in remembrance of the blood and body of Jesus Christ. It is viewed as a renewal of the covenant made at baptism, which is to take upon oneself the name of Jesus. As such, it is considered efficacious only for baptized members in good standing. However, the unbaptized are not forbidden from communion, and it is traditional for children not yet baptized (baptism occurs only after the age of eight) to participate in communion in anticipation of baptism. Those who partake of the Sacrament promise always to remember Jesus and keep his commandments. The prayer also asks God the Father that each individual will be blest with the Spirit of Christ.[41]

The Sacrament is offered weekly and all active members are taught to prepare to partake of each opportunity. It is considered to be a weekly renewal of a member's commitment to follow Jesus Christ, and a plea for forgiveness of sins.

The Latter Day Saints do not believe in any kind of literal presence. They view the bread and water as symbolic of the body and blood of Christ. Currently The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints uses water instead of wine. Early in their history the Sacrament wine was often purchased from enemies of the church. To remove any opportunity for poisoned or wine unfit for use in the Sacrament, it is believed a revelation from the Lord was given that stated "it mattereth not what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink when ye partake of the sacrament, if it so be that ye do it with an eye single to my glory — remembering unto the Father my body which was laid down for you, and my blood which was shed for the remission of your sins."[42] After this time water became the liquid of choice for all Sacrament uses."

I'm impressed with this explanation, I think they did some very good research.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Myths About Evolution and Creation

Today an athiest/evolutionist friend of mine gave me a link to watch a youtube video that outlined the "Myths of Evolution". I believe it was split up in to two parts, but I only watched the link he gave me. There were some points in it that I wanted to comment about.

The first "myth" that he listed was that creationists always say that evolution is a "theory" and that what we think of as theory is different from scientific theory. He gave examples of theories such as cell theory, and the atomic theory that have been proven through experiments. I decided to look up the defintion of "scientific theory". I was given this definition from Merriam Webster online dictionary: "a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena " Another definition I was given was, "6 a: a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation b: an unproved assumption : conjecture c: a body of theorems presenting a concise systematic view of a subject " I will be the first to admit I'm not a scientist, but it seems to me that both of these definitions still refer to something that is plausible...but not necessarily proven.

His second myth had to do with Abiogenesis. Abiogenesis means that life was created out of nothing. Many creationists accuse evolutionists of believing that life erupted in to being the "Big Bang" theory suggests. Interestingly enough, although producer of the video seemed to be arguing against creationists, he did admit that Evolutionists do not suggest how life began, only what happened after life began. I might add that Evolutionist have an erroneous myth about creationists. They believe that we think God created man "poof" out of nothing. I can't speak for all religions, but that isn't what ours believes. In fact, He used a period of time (day) for each phase of the creation, and the creation of man took one of those "days".

His third myth was that many Christians accuse evolution of being the cause of many social ills. He went on to mention studies that show that countries that predominantly believe in evolution have lower crime rates. He failed to mention however, that countries such as China, that has a communist government, don't allow religion, and have extremely strict punishments for crime. It is easy to see why their country would have a lower crime rate. I have to agree on this point though, I don't see how believing in evolution could cause more crime. But I also think that countries where the majority of the people believe evolution, could also have higher education, thereby producing a people less likely to have the need to commit crime. So many factors could be at play besides just the commonality that they all believe in evolution. He did seem, however, to blame all of history's violence on religion. This is a notion I often find in evolutionists and athiests. What they don't realize is that it is usually only fanatics that are at the core of the violence, fanatics such as muslim extremists.

Another myth he mentioned, (the number 4 myth was inconsequential to me), is the myth that there are no transitional forms. He went on to show slides of different skeletal forms that showed both reptile and avian characterisitcs. This was his proof that evolution occurred. My question to him is, "How do you know those weren't designed that way?". Those creatures easily could have existed without evolution having occurred. I don't see them as "proof"...only "plausible" explanations.

The last myth I wanted to comment on (because the other wasn't really something that concerned me) was that creationists say that mutation cannot increase information. He talked about how genes can information can be formed. I would agree with that. I don't however believe that they could occur in the quantity and variety needed to create all of the life on Earth.

One last thought, this from an LDS scholar of ancient history and languages, Hugh Nibley. In his book, "Approaching Zion" he quoted Sir Fred Hoyle who, "was constantly plagued by the thought that the number of ways in which even a single enzyme could be wrongly constructed was greater than the number of all the atoms in the universe. [vs. only in the right way], So try as I would, I couldn't convince myself that even the whole universe would be sufficient to find life by random processes--by what are called the blind forces of nature....By far the simplest way to arrive at the correct sequences of amino acids in the enzymes [forming those biological grains out in space] would be by thought, not by random processes....Rather than accept the fantastically small probability of life having arisen through the blind forces of nature, it seemed better to suppose that the origin of life was a deliberate intellectual act." Hugh Nibley, Approaching Zion, pg 121 quoting Sir Fred Hoyle "The Universe: Past And Present Reflections"

As a Christian, I will freely admit that I don't have all the answers about how this Earth was created. But I also believe that science also doesn't have all of the answers. I as a Christian will admit that processes such as adaption could have occurred. Is science willing to admit that it all could have been guided by intelligent design?

Ben Stein on Glenn Beck's show about Intelligent Design

This movie looks great...and I do respect Glenn Beck's opinion.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (Super Trailer)

Putting Off the Natural Man

"For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father." Mosiah 3:19

I've been thinking a lot about this scripture this week. As a believer of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I find that there is always this tug between the "natural man" and the "new creature" as described in 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." When we are spiritually "born again", we have a change in our hearts that helps us to overcome the natural man in us, and makes us want to live righteously. The Book of Mormon teaches of a people who experienced this change in their lives. "And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually." Mosiah 5:2

We are in an age of "political correctness". At one time, that phrase may have referred only to politics, but now has come to refer to people's individual lives. What started out as an effort not to offend any particular group of voters, has now grown to become an effort not to offend any person no matter their practices or political affiliations. It seems that religion itself is becoming "politically incorrect" unless it allows all people to freely behave any way they desire. This mind set has taken hold in many religions to the degree that they discount any commandments that may "offend" any of their congregation. They want to "redefine" Christianity so that they can be allowed to keep the "natural man" in tact.
The scriptures however, are very clear on this point. Romans 8:6,7 says, " For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." I have heard this word "enmity" often, and have looked it up in the dictionary because I wasn't sure of the meaning. At one point, I looked it up and found the definition "opposition". But in going back to the dictionary now, I find that the definition is listed as "deep seated, often mutual hatred". ( I wish I could find the dictionary I used before, because the defintion "opposition" feels more correct to me. But suffice it to say, the natural man in us, the carnal man, is indeed in opposition to God, and has a deep seated hatred of His commandments.

In writing to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul councilled the people to put on spiritual armour so that they could withstand the temptations that easily come to us because of the natural man within us. "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; Ephesians 6:11,13-18

We are in a war against Satan for the salvation of our souls. He would have us sin, to draw us away from God. He knows that we have weaknesses, and will find just the right temptation to set a snare for us. Usually these traps are well hidden and subtle. If he were to come right out and attack us openly, we would recognize him and fight back. But if he can use a trojan horse to sneak the temptation in the back door, if we are not attentive, we will fall. We must take the admonition of Paul to the Romans: "The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light." Romans 13:12

Thursday, April 10, 2008

“My Words . . . Never Cease”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

We invite all to inquire into the wonder of what God has said since biblical times and is saying even now.

President Monson, may I claim a moment of personal privilege?

As the first of the Brethren invited to speak following your singular message to the Church this morning, may I say something on behalf of all your Brethren of the General Authorities and indeed on behalf of all the Church.

Of the many privileges we have had in this historic conference, including participation in a solemn assembly in which we were able to stand and sustain you as prophet, seer, and revelator, I cannot help but feel that the most important privilege we have all had has been to witness personally the settling of the sacred, prophetic mantle upon your shoulders, almost as it were by the very hands of angels themselves. Those in attendance at last night’s general priesthood meeting and all who were present in the worldwide broadcast of this morning’s session have been eyewitness to this event. For all the participants, I express our gratitude for such a moment. I say that with love to President Monson and especially love to our Father in Heaven for the wonderful opportunity it has been to be “eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16), as the Apostle Peter once said.

In general conference last October, I said there were two principal reasons The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is accused, erroneously, of not being Christian. At that time I addressed one of those doctrinal issues—our scripturally based view of the Godhead. Today I would like to address the other major doctrine which characterizes our faith but which causes concern to some, namely the bold assertion that God continues to speak His word and reveal His truth, revelations which mandate an open canon of scripture.

Some Christians, in large measure because of their genuine love for the Bible, have declared that there can be no more authorized scripture beyond the Bible. In thus pronouncing the canon of revelation closed, our friends in some other faiths shut the door on divine expression that we in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hold dear: the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and the ongoing guidance received by God’s anointed prophets and apostles. Imputing no ill will to those who take such a position, nevertheless we respectfully but resolutely reject such an unscriptural characterization of true Christianity.

One of the arguments often used in any defense of a closed canon is the New Testament passage recorded in Revelation 22:18: “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of . . . this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.” However, there is now overwhelming consensus among virtually all biblical scholars that this verse applies only to the book of Revelation, not the whole Bible. Those scholars of our day acknowledge a number of New Testament “books” that were almost certainly written after John’s revelation on the Isle of Patmos was received. Included in this category are at least the books of Jude, the three Epistles of John, and probably the entire Gospel of John itself.1 Perhaps there are even more than these.

But there is a simpler answer as to why that passage in the final book of the current New Testament cannot apply to the whole Bible. That is because the whole Bible as we know it—one collection of texts bound in a single volume—did not exist when that verse was written. For centuries after John produced his writing, the individual books of the New Testament were in circulation singly or perhaps in combinations with a few other texts but almost never as a complete collection. Of the entire corpus of 5,366 known Greek New Testament manuscripts, only 35 contain the whole New Testament as we now know it, and 34 of those were compiled after A.D. 1000.2

The fact of the matter is that virtually every prophet of the Old and New Testament has added scripture to that received by his predecessors. If the Old Testament words of Moses were sufficient, as some could have mistakenly thought them to be,3 then why, for example, the subsequent prophecies of Isaiah or of Jeremiah, who follows him? To say nothing of Ezekiel and Daniel, of Joel, Amos, and all the rest. If one revelation to one prophet in one moment of time is sufficient for all time, what justifies these many others? What justifies them was made clear by Jehovah Himself when He said to Moses, “My works are without end, and . . . my words . . . never cease.”4

One Protestant scholar has inquired tellingly into the erroneous doctrine of a closed canon. He writes: “On what biblical or historical grounds has the inspiration of God been limited to the written documents that the church now calls its Bible? . . . If the Spirit inspired only the written documents of the first century, does that mean that the same Spirit does not speak today in the church about matters that are of significant concern?”5 We humbly ask those same questions.

Continuing revelation does not demean or discredit existing revelation. The Old Testament does not lose its value in our eyes when we are introduced to the New Testament, and the New Testament is only enhanced when we read the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. In considering the additional scripture accepted by Latter-day Saints, we might ask: Were those early Christians who for decades had access only to the primitive Gospel of Mark (generally considered the first of the New Testament Gospels to be written)—were they offended to receive the more detailed accounts set forth later by Matthew and Luke, to say nothing of the unprecedented passages and revelatory emphasis offered later yet by John? Surely they must have rejoiced that ever more convincing evidence of the divinity of Christ kept coming. And so do we rejoice.

Please do not misunderstand. We love and revere the Bible, as Elder M. Russell Ballard taught so clearly from this pulpit just one year ago.6 The Bible is the word of God. It is always identified first in our canon, our “standard works.” Indeed, it was a divinely ordained encounter with the fifth verse of the first chapter of the book of James that led Joseph Smith to his vision of the Father and the Son, which gave birth to the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in our time. But even then, Joseph knew the Bible alone could not be the answer to all of the religious questions he and others like him had. As he said in his own words, the ministers of his community were contending—sometimes angrily—over their doctrines. “Priest [was] contending against priest, and convert [was contending] against convert . . . in a strife of words and a contest about opinions,” he said. About the only thing these contending religions had in common was, ironically, a belief in the Bible, but, as Joseph wrote, “the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question [regarding which church was true] by an appeal to the Bible.”7 Clearly the Bible, so frequently described at that time as “common ground,” was nothing of the kind—unfortunately it was a battleground.

Thus one of the great purposes of continuing revelation through living prophets is to declare to the world through additional witnesses that the Bible is true. “This is written,” an ancient prophet said, speaking of the Book of Mormon, “for the intent that ye may believe that,” speaking of the Bible.8 In one of the earliest revelations received by Joseph Smith, the Lord said, “Behold, I do not bring [the Book of Mormon forth] to destroy [the Bible] but to build it up.”9

One other point needs to be made. Since it is clear there were Christians long before there was a New Testament or even an accumulation of the sayings of Jesus, it cannot therefore be maintained that the Bible is what makes one a Christian. In the words of esteemed New Testament scholar N. T. Wright, “The risen Jesus, at the end of Matthew’s Gospel, does not say, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth is given to the books you are all going to write,’ but ‘All authority in heaven and on earth is given to me.’ “10 In other words, “Scripture itself points . . . away from itself and to the fact that final and true authority belongs to God himself.”11 So the scriptures are not the ultimate source of knowledge for Latter-day Saints. They are manifestations of the ultimate source. The ultimate source of knowledge and authority for a Latter-day Saint is the living God. The communication of those gifts comes from God as living, vibrant, divine revelation.12

This doctrine lies at the very heart of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and our message to the world. It dramatizes the significance of a solemn assembly yesterday, in which we sustained Thomas S. Monson as a prophet, a seer, and a revelator. We believe in a God who is engaged in our lives, who is not silent, not absent, nor, as Elijah said of the god of the priests of Baal, is He “[on] a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be [awakened].”13 In this Church, even our young Primary children recite, “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”14

In declaring new scripture and continuing revelation, we pray we will never be arrogant or insensitive. But after a sacred vision in a now sacred grove answered in the affirmative the question “Does God exist?” what Joseph Smith and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints force us to face is the next interrogative, which necessarily follows: “Does He speak?” We bring the good news that He does and that He has. With a love and affection born of our Christianity, we invite all to inquire into the wonder of what God has said since biblical times and is saying even now.

In a sense Joseph Smith and his prophetic successors in this Church answer the challenge Ralph Waldo Emerson put to the students of the Harvard Divinity School 170 years ago this coming summer. To that group of the Protestant best and brightest, the great sage of Concord pled that they teach “that God is, not was; that He speaketh, not spake.”15

I testify that the heavens are open. I testify that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet, that the Book of Mormon is truly another testament of Jesus Christ, that Thomas S. Monson is God’s prophet, a modern apostle with the keys of the kingdom in his hands, a man upon whom I personally have seen the mantle fall. I testify that the presence of such authorized, prophetic voices and ongoing canonized revelations have been at the heart of the Christian message whenever the authorized ministry of Christ has been on the earth. I testify that such a ministry is on the earth again, and it is found in this, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In our heartfelt devotion to Jesus of Nazareth as the very Son of God, the Savior of the world, we invite all to examine what we have received of Him, to join with us, drinking deeply at the “well of water springing up into everlasting life,”16 these constantly flowing reminders that God lives, that He loves us, and that He speaks. I express the deepest personal thanks that His works never end and His “words . . . never cease.” I bear witness of such divine loving attention and the recording of it, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

1. See Stephen E. Robinson, Are Mormons Christians? (1991), 46. The issue of canon is discussed on pages 45–56.
2. See Bruce M. Metzger, Manuscripts of the Greek Bible: An Introduction to Greek Paleography (1981), 54–55; see also Are Mormons Christians? 46.
3. See Deuteronomy 4:2, for example.
4. Moses 1:4.
5. Lee M. McDonald, The Formation of the Christian Biblical Canon, rev. ed. (1995), 255–56.
6. See “The Miracle of the Holy Bible,” Liahona and Ensign, May 2007, 80–82.
7. Joseph Smith—History 1:6, 12.
8. Mormon 7:9; emphasis added.
9. D&C 10:52; see also D&C 20:11.
10. N. T. Wright, The Last Word: Beyond the Bible Wars to a New Understanding of the Authority of Scripture (2005), xi.
11. Wright, The Last Word, 24.
12. For a full essay on this subject, see Dallin H. Oaks, “Scripture Reading and Revelation,” Ensign, Jan. 1995, 6–9.
13. 1 Kings 18:27.
14. Articles of Faith 1:9.
15. “An Address,” The Complete Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1929), 45.
16. John 4:14.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Gaining a Witness

I have many intelligent friends who feel that to believe in a thing, there must be evidence to prove it's veracity. Most of them believe in evolution, because science has provided them with some theories that seem logical to them. But they cannot accept the notion that we can believe in something because of faith.

Faith is more than just a belief. Faith is a power that motivates us and gives us strength. In some ways, faith can be likened to a muscle. A muscle cannot grow without use. So too, faith must be exercised in order for it to become strong.

One of the principle reasons for the creation of this earth was to give us an opportunity to develop faith. In our religion we believe that we existed before we were born. We lived as spirit children with God. But living with God, we could not truly learn faith. Living here on Earth, away from God, with no memory of Him, we truly have an opportunity to develop real faith. We can't see God, so we must have faith that He exists. When we pray, we must believe that God listens and will answer our prayers.

God does expect us to use our minds to reason things out, but He also has given us another way to know. When Jesus Christ was about to end his mortal ministry, he spoke of this help that we would receive: "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; • • •
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." John 14:16, 26 The mission of the Holy Ghost is to testify of truth. The Holy Ghost does not as yet have a physical body. His spirit communicates with our spirit to help us to know what is right, and what is true. He can also comfort us as mentioned above.

However, we cannot discount the importance of reasoning things out. This lesson was taught in modern day to Oliver Cowdery. In modern day revelation, the Lord said, "But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
9 But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong..." Doctrine and Covenants 9:8,9 This is a great pattern for all of us to follow. We should:
1: Study things out in our mind
2: Decide for ourselves if the thing is right
3: Ask God in prayer if our decision is right
4: If it is right, we will feel in our hearts and minds that it is right
5: If it isn't right, we will have a "stupor of thought" or confusion, or a feeling that it isn't right.

Some have thought that asking alone is enough. Others have thought that simply studying is enough. The Book of Mormon tells us what kind of attitude we should have when studying a thing if we want to receive a witness. At the end of the Book of Mormon is a promise. It says, " Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your chearts.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. (Moroni 10:3-5)
This scripture gives us some additional ideas for how we should approach our study. First it mentions pondering in our hearts. Then it mentions that if we ask with sincere heart, with real intent, we will receive our answer. So many people approach study of a thing with the intent to prove it wrong. Their minds are not open to the possibility that it is true, and their intent is not to truly study. Such people will not receive a witness. I have received such a witness about many things. I echo the testimony of a Book of Mormon prophet, Nephi who said, "Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen." 2 Nephi 4:35

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent

I thought I would write a post about this subject, but this talk by Jeffery Holland was wonderful, so I decided to post it in it's entirety.

Jeffrey R. Holland Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent,” Ensign, Nov 2007, 40–42

As Elder Ballard noted earlier in this session, various cross-currents of our times have brought increasing public attention to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Lord told the ancients this latter-day work would be “a marvellous work and a wonder,”1 and it is. But even as we invite one and all to examine closely the marvel of it, there is one thing we would not like anyone to wonder about—that is whether or not we are “Christians.”

By and large any controversy in this matter has swirled around two doctrinal issues—our view of the Godhead and our belief in the principle of continuing revelation leading to an open scriptural canon. In addressing this we do not need to be apologists for our faith, but we would like not to be misunderstood. So with a desire to increase understanding and unequivocally declare our Christianity, I speak today on the first of those two doctrinal issues just mentioned.

Our first and foremost article of faith in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.”2 We believe these three divine persons constituting a single Godhead are united in purpose, in manner, in testimony, in mission. We believe Them to be filled with the same godly sense of mercy and love, justice and grace, patience, forgiveness, and redemption. I think it is accurate to say we believe They are one in every significant and eternal aspect imaginable except believing Them to be three persons combined in one substance, a Trinitarian notion never set forth in the scriptures because it is not true.

Indeed no less a source than the stalwart Harper’s Bible Dictionary records that “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the [New Testament].”3

So any criticism that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not hold the contemporary Christian view of God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost is not a comment about our commitment to Christ but rather a recognition (accurate, I might add) that our view of the Godhead breaks with post–New Testament Christian history and returns to the doctrine taught by Jesus Himself. Now, a word about that post–New Testament history might be helpful.

In the year a.d. 325 the Roman emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea to address—among other things—the growing issue of God’s alleged “trinity in unity.” What emerged from the heated contentions of churchmen, philosophers, and ecclesiastical dignitaries came to be known (after another 125 years and three more major councils)4 as the Nicene Creed, with later reformulations such as the Athanasian Creed. These various evolutions and iterations of creeds—and others to come over the centuries—declared the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to be abstract, absolute, transcendent, imminent, consubstantial, coeternal, and unknowable, without body, parts, or passions and dwelling outside space and time. In such creeds all three members are separate persons, but they are a single being, the oft-noted “mystery of the trinity.” They are three distinct persons, yet not three Gods but one. All three persons are incomprehensible, yet it is one God who is incomprehensible.

We agree with our critics on at least that point—that such a formulation for divinity is truly incomprehensible. With such a confusing definition of God being imposed upon the church, little wonder that a fourth-century monk cried out, “Woe is me! They have taken my God away from me, … and I know not whom to adore or to address.”5 How are we to trust, love, worship, to say nothing of strive to be like, One who is incomprehensible and unknowable? What of Jesus’s prayer to His Father in Heaven that “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent”?6

It is not our purpose to demean any person’s belief nor the doctrine of any religion. We extend to all the same respect for their doctrine that we are asking for ours. (That, too, is an article of our faith.) But if one says we are not Christians because we do not hold a fourth- or fifth-century view of the Godhead, then what of those first Christian Saints, many of whom were eyewitnesses of the living Christ, who did not hold such a view either?7

We declare it is self-evident from the scriptures that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are separate persons, three divine beings, noting such unequivocal illustrations as the Savior’s great Intercessory Prayer just mentioned, His baptism at the hands of John, the experience on the Mount of Transfiguration, and the martyrdom of Stephen—to name just four.

With these New Testament sources and more8 ringing in our ears, it may be redundant to ask what Jesus meant when He said, “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do.”9 On another occasion He said, “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.”10 Of His antagonists He said, “[They have] … seen and hated both me and my Father.”11 And there is, of course, that always deferential subordination to His Father that had Jesus say, “Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.”12 “My father is greater than I.”13

To whom was Jesus pleading so fervently all those years, including in such anguished cries as “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me”14 and “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me”?15 To acknowledge the scriptural evidence that otherwise perfectly united members of the Godhead are nevertheless separate and distinct beings is not to be guilty of polytheism; it is, rather, part of the great revelation Jesus came to deliver concerning the nature of divine beings. Perhaps the Apostle Paul said it best: “Christ Jesus … being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.”16

A related reason The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is excluded from the Christian category by some is because we believe, as did the ancient prophets and apostles, in an embodied—but certainly glorified—God.17 To those who criticize this scripturally based belief, I ask at least rhetorically: If the idea of an embodied God is repugnant, why are the central doctrines and singularly most distinguishing characteristics of all Christianity the Incarnation, the Atonement, and the physical Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ? If having a body is not only not needed but not desirable by Deity, why did the Redeemer of mankind redeem His body, redeeming it from the grasp of death and the grave, guaranteeing it would never again be separated from His spirit in time or eternity?18Any who dismiss the concept of an embodied God dismiss both the mortal and the resurrected Christ. No one claiming to be a true Christian will want to do that.

Now, to anyone within the sound of my voice who has wondered regarding our Christianity, I bear this witness. I testify that Jesus Christ is the literal, living Son of our literal, living God. This Jesus is our Savior and Redeemer who, under the guidance of the Father, was the Creator of heaven and earth and all things that in them are. I bear witness that He was born of a virgin mother, that in His lifetime He performed mighty miracles observed by legions of His disciples and by His enemies as well. I testify that He had power over death because He was divine but that He willingly subjected Himself to death for our sake because for a period of time He was also mortal. I declare that in His willing submission to death He took upon Himself the sins of the world, paying an infinite price for every sorrow and sickness, every heartache and unhappiness from Adam to the end of the world. In doing so He conquered both the grave physically and hell spiritually and set the human family free. I bear witness that He was literally resurrected from the tomb and, after ascending to His Father to complete the process of that Resurrection, He appeared, repeatedly, to hundreds of disciples in the Old World and in the New. I know He is the Holy One of Israel, the Messiah who will one day come again in final glory, to reign on earth as Lord of lords and King of kings. I know that there is no other name given under heaven whereby a man can be saved and that only by relying wholly upon His merits, mercy, and everlasting grace19 can we gain eternal life.

My additional testimony regarding this resplendent doctrine is that in preparation for His millennial latter-day reign, Jesus has already come, more than once, in embodied majestic glory. In the spring of 1820, a 14-year-old boy, confused by many of these very doctrines that still confuse much of Christendom, went into a grove of trees to pray. In answer to that earnest prayer offered at such a tender age, the Father and the Son appeared as embodied, glorified beings to the boy prophet Joseph Smith. That day marked the beginning of the return of the true, New Testament gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and the restoration of other prophetic truths offered from Adam down to the present day.

I testify that my witness of these things is true and that the heavens are open to all who seek the same confirmation. Through the Holy Spirit of Truth, may we all know “the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom [He has] sent.”20 Then may we live Their teachings and be true Christians in deed, as well as in word, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

1. Isaiah 29:14.

2. Articles of Faith 1:1.

3. Paul F. Achtemeier, ed. (1985), 1099; emphasis added.

4. Constantinople, a.d. 381; Ephesus, a.d. 431; Chalcedon, a.d. 451.

5. Quoted in Owen Chadwick, Western Asceticism (1958), 235.

6. John 17:3; emphasis added.

7. For a thorough discussion of this issue, see Stephen E. Robinson, Are Mormons Christian? 71–89; see also Robert Millet, Getting at the Truth (2004), 106–22.

8. See, for example, John 12:27–30; John 14:26; Romans 8:34; Hebrews 1:1–3.

9. John 5:19; see also John 14:10.

10. John 6:38.

11. John 15:24.

12. Matthew 19:17.

13. John 14:28.

14. Matthew 26:39.

15. Matthew 27:46.

16. Philippians 2:5–6.

17. See David L. Paulsen, “Early Christian Belief in a Corporeal Deity: Origen and Augustine as Reluctant Witnesses,” Harvard Theological Review, vol. 83, no. 2 (1990): 105–16; David L. Paulsen, “The Doctrine of Divine Embodiment: Restoration, Judeo-Christian, and Philosophical Perspectives,” BYU Studies, vol. 35, no. 4 (1996): 7–94; James L. Kugel, The God of Old: Inside the Lost World of the Bible (2003), xi–xii, 5–6, 104–6, 134–35; Clark Pinnock, Most Moved Mover: A Theology of God’s Openness (2001), 33–34.

18. See Romans 6:9; Alma 11:45.

19. See 1 Nephi 10:6; 2 Nephi 2:8; 31:19; Moroni 6:4; Joseph Smith Translation, Romans 3:24.

20. John 17:3.

Friday, April 4, 2008

General Conference

This weekend, April 5, and 6th is our Church's semi-annual general conference. It is broadcast from our new conference center in Salt Lake City. We have sessions at 10 am, and 2 pm (mountain time) on Saturday and again at 10 and 2 mountain time on Sunday. I'm not sure why, but my favorite sessions are the Saturday sessions. Each session lasts 2 hours, and has some incredible speakers. You can watch it on BYU television if you have satellite service. Music and the Spoken Word precede Conference at 9:30 am Mountain time. It's always nice to listen to the Mormon Tabernacle choir during conference! (photos from flicker)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Tender Mercies

A speaker in church today gave a talk based on a talk by Elder David A. Bednar titled, "The Tender Mercies of the Lord". As I listened to some of his personal examples of when he has felt those "tender mercies" in his own life, I thought about the many ways that God has been good to me. I think so many times people don't even recognize when God showers blessings and mercy down upon them. Some, whose faith in God isn't strong might count it as coincidence. Some call it "good luck". Some may believe that God was the source, but deep down feel they deserved the blessings.

I don't consider my self the most worthy of recipients of God's goodness, but I often feel as a friend of mine used to always say, that I am "God's spoiled only child". I am amazed at the "tender mercies" extended to me, even when I don't deserve them. Even though I may at times be spiritually lazy, when I do pray for help, He answers those prayers in amazing ways.

I know that we all have to experience trials and tribulation in this life. I believe this is part of the reason we are on this earth, to learn and grow from these experiences. That belief doesn't lessen the severity of the trial, but it does make it easier to understand why. But it is amazing that even in the darkest of times, God quietly pours out His "tender mercies" to help us through.

I have often seen others be the instrument to bring those blessings to my life. They may not have even known that they were an answer to prayer, but I knew they were. I hope that I will always be willing to step up and do the same for others.

Do You Believe in Miracles?

I've had something I've been thinking about for quite some time now. I have mulled it over in my mind and I think I've finally come to an understanding. I could never understand how people could believe in miracles, but not believe that Joseph Smith could translate the Book of Mormon, or that angels could appear to him.

Many believe that Moses actually parted the Red Sea, and the children of Israel passed through on dry ground. They can believe that the apostles in the New Testament healed the sick. They can believe that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. They can believe that Lazarus was raised from the dead. They can believe that Daniel was protected from lions in the lions den. They can believe that Sarah could have a child when she was beyond child rearing years. They can believe that Joseph of Egypt was able to interpret dreams. They can believe that Isaiah was able to prophecy the future. They can believe that Jesus turned water in to wine, or fed 5000 with a few loaves and fishes. They can believe that miracles happened in days of old, but they can't believe that they can happen today.

As I have pondered this for quite some months now, I have started to read what others believe about the Bible, and I have come to see that many Christian churches, in fact, don't believe the Bible literally. Many churches believe that it was only speaking figuratively. They can't believe prophecies that verge too much on the miraculous, and instead interpret them according to what they can comfortably believe.

I, for one, do believe in miracles. I believe that if God can create the Earth, and everything on it, he can perform miracles today. He asks us, "Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?" Jer. 32:27 Is it too hard for the Lord to lead another people across the sea to the Americas? Is it too hard for the Lord to command them to keep a record? Is it too hard for Him to bring forth that record in the latter day and have it translated? Is it too hard for Him to call modern day prophets to restore the Gospel that was lost to apostasy? I believe these things happened, just as I believe that Moses did in fact turn the river Nile in to blood. I believe that the Book of Mormon came forth by the gift and power of God just as much as I believe that Isaiah was inspired and shown in vision the second coming of our Savior. I believe that Jesus Christ was literally resurrected from the dead, and I also believe that the resurrected Peter, James and John came to Joseph Smith and restored the Priesthood authority which had been lost. Simply put, I believe in miracles. Do you believe in miracles?

Saved By Grace

If you were to ask me if I believe in being saved by grace, or saved by works, I would have to answer both. As I contemplate this subject, it occurs to me that maybe I should explain my definition of some of these words. The words "works", and "grace", might have different meanings to other people.

The "works" mentioned aren't good deeds. I don't believe that you earn your way to heaven by doing good deeds. Oh, I helped an old lady across the more notch on my heaven meter! :) No, when I use the term "works", I'm referring to repentance. Romans 3:23 tells us, " For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." As fallible human beings, we all sin. 1 John 3:4 teaches us: " Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law." We have been given commandments, or laws in the Bible. The ten commandments were given us and when we break those commandments, we commit sin. In addition, when the Savior taught the beattitudes, he took these commandments to a higher level. He taught us a higher way to think about the commandments. Revelations refers to the judgement day when we will be judged by our works: Rev. 20:12 "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works."

Repentance alone cannot ever make us worthy to enter the kingdom of heaven. We aren't even worthy to approach the judgement seat to ask for mercy. It took someone without sin to be the mediator for us. The "grace" that we speak of is the grace of Jesus Christ to volunteer to be that mediator for us. He suffered for the sins of the world so that if we repent, we can be forgiven. Galatians 2:16: "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."

A modern day Prophet, Ezra Taft Benson said,"The question is sometimes asked, 'Are Mormons Christians?' We declare the divinity of Jesus Christ. We look to Him as the only source of our salvation. We strive to live His teachings, and we look forward to the time that He shall come again on this earth to rule and reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. In the words of a Book of Mormon prophet, we say to men today, 'There [is] no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent' (Mosiah 3:17)."

I once read a story about a little girl who asked her father if he would buy her a bicycle. He told her to save up her money, and then one day she would be able to buy one. She saved her money for a long time, then one day came to her father and said, "I have saved up my money, can we go buy a bicycle now?" Her father took her to the store and let her pick out a bike. Then he asked her to put her money on the counter. She took out several dollars worth of change. The father then made up the difference so that she could purchase the bike. This is what Jesus Christ's atonement does for us. We give all that we can give to try to repent, then his sacrifice makes up the difference that we could never do on our own. It wouldn't be fair to us as His children, for God the Father to deny us the opportunity to try to make up for wrongs that we do. We must be allowed to suffer consequences for our behavior, because this is how we progress and learn. If Jesus Christ's atonement did not require us to suffer consequences, that would not be fair to us a children who are trying to progress and learn.

In order for Christ's atoning sacrifice to take effect in our lives, we must have faith in Him, and look to Him as the only one who can pay that additional price for us. Romans 3: 23-31
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be ajust, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law." Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord"
Some believe that faith in Christ's atonement is enough. They believe that if you only believe, you will be saved, no matter what you have done. James teaches differently: "James 2:17-26
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."
We must have faith in Jesus Christ's atonement, but our faith cannot be perfect with out our works. It is easy to say we believe if we dont' have to live it. The true test of our belief comes in our obeying. When we disobey, we must repent. If we do not repent, we aren't worthy to enter the kingdom of God. We are all human, so we must continually repent of things we do that are wrong.
I almost laugh when I hear people say that our religion is not a Christian religion. We look to Jesus Christ as our Savior. It is only because of His grace in suffering for us, that we have any hope. I add my feelings to those of the Book of Mormon Prophet Nephi who said, "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. .. And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins." 2 Nephi 25:23, 26

Rejoice in Christ

I decided I wanted a separate blog to discuss religious issues. When thinking about the name I wanted to give it, I decided to use a phrase from a Book of Mormon scripture:

"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. .. And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins." 2 Nephi 25:23, 26

I hope to be able to share my beliefs, as well as discuss gospel principles.