Archive for the 'Gospel Principles' Category

The Fall of Adam and Eve

This is the sixth chapter of the Gospel Principles manual for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To view the entire lesson, go here: The Fall of Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve Were the First to Come to Earth – What evidence helps us know that Adam and Eve were valiant spirits?

The plan laid out in heaven, included the first man and woman who would come to earth, being Adam and Eve. In the sixth period of the creation, man was created and given dominion over the earth. Adam and Eve were placed in the garden of Eden and given commandments. The evidence to me that they were valiant spirits before coming to the earth, is found in the knowledge that Adam was Michael before he came to the earth. In Doctrine and Covenants 107:54 we read, “And the Lord appeared unto them, and they rose up and blessed Adam, and called him Michael, the prince, the archangel.” Michael was the leader of the armies of heaven, which fought against Satan when the rebellion against the plan of God began. In Revelation 12 we read the following:

7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

They were chosen to be the father and mother of all the people on Earth. In Doctrine and Covenants we read of them in the spirit world at the time when the Savior returned and the valiant spirits they are. In section 138 we read the following:

36 Thus was it made known that our Redeemer spent his time during his sojourn in the world of spirits, instructing and preparing the faithful spirits of the prophets who had testified of him in the flesh;
37 That they might carry the message of redemption unto all the dead, unto whom he could not go personally, because of their rebellion and transgression, that they through the ministration of his servants might also hear his words.
38 Among the great and mighty ones who were assembled in this vast congregation of the righteous were Father Adam, the Ancient of Days and father of all,
39 And our glorious Mother Eve, with many of her faithful daughters who had lived through the ages and worshiped the true and living God.

In life, they continued to be valiant, in spite of their transgression in the garden. They transgressed the law and then had to experience the fall from God’s presence. The way they chose to live their pre-mortal and mortal lives is a great example to me.

What can we learn from the examples of Adam and Eve?

In the garden state, Adam and Eve remembered the commandments of God, but Eve transgressed because of the temptations of Satan. Their experience teaches me that Satan will use deceit and half-truths to try to stop the purposes of God and that we are all vulnerable to his tactics.

In Moses 5 we read the following:

4 And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence.
5 And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.
6 And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.

Adam and Eve were faithful and devoted to God in their mortal lives. They did not question his commandments, even though they did not know why they were to do them. Later, Satan began to lead their children astray, but Moses 5:16 starts, “And Adam and Eve, his wife, ceased not to call upon God.” They continued with devotion to God.

The Garden of Eden – Under what conditions did Adam and Eve live in the Garden of Eden?

The garden was a pre-mortal paradise. In Genesis 2 we read the following:

9 And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden . . .
15 And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
. . . 19 And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air . . .
24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

The garden was full of beautiful plants, a river to water the earth, and animals of all kinds. Adam was given dominion over all of these. Adam worked to keep the garden beautiful, but this work was not the difficult work of keeping gardens in mortality, because there were not any weeds and pests to destroy them there, plus there was plenty of those things that are needed to sustain the garden and all that was in it. They lived with commandments, because it is an eternal principle that there should be laws to govern us. Adam and Eve were married in the Garden and in their innocent state, they did not know of things such as shame or modesty.

In Isaiah 51:3 we read, “For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.” This teaches us that Zion was a place of joy, gladness, thanksgiving and harmony. Adam and Eve lived in perfect peace while in the garden. The interesting thing about this is, that they did not recognize that they were living in this state, because they knew of nothing else. In 2 Nephi 2 we read the following:

22 And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end.
23 And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.

They lived in an immortal state while in the garden, and although it was a place of joy, they could not have eternal joy because they did not know what joy was. We can only truly know what something is when we understand what it is not. We cannot understand joy without understanding misery. They lived in a sinless state where they could not progress any further.

Adam and Eve’s Separation from God – What physical and spiritual changes occurred in Adam and Eve as a result of their transgression?

Physically, Adam and Eve became mortal bodies. They would experience pain, suffering and eventually death. They would likewise experience joy, growth and learning. Spiritually, they became separated from God and could no longer dwell in his presence. The scriptures say that they could hear him, but could not see him any longer. These changes are known as physical and spiritual death. In Moses 6:48 we read, “And he said unto them: Because that Adam fell, we are; and by his fall came death; and we are made partakers of misery and woe.” Also in Doctrine and Covenants 29:41 we read, “Wherefore, I, the Lord God, caused that he should be cast out from the Garden of Eden, from my presence, because of his transgression, wherein he became spiritually dead, which is the first death . . .”. From spiritual death, they inherited the qualities of the natural man. In Alma 42:10 we read, “Therefore, as they had become carnal, sensual, and devilish, by nature, this probationary state became a state for them to prepare; it became a preparatory state.” Sin had been introduced to the world.

Great Blessings Resulted from the Transgression – How does the Fall provide opportunities for us to become like our Heavenly Father?

Because we have the opportunity to learn the opposition in all things, we can choose for ourselves if we would like to become like our Heavenly Father or not. In 2 Nephi 2:11 we read, “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, . . . righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad.” The ability to grow and progress further was not available before the fall of Adam and Eve, but now it is available to all of mankind. In 2 Nephi 2:27 we read “Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” We have the power to choose if we will believe and follow His Son, to become like Him. In 3 Nephi 9:17, the Savior taught the people, “And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name, for behold, by me redemption cometh, and in me is the law of Moses fulfilled.”

Why do you think it is important to know about the Fall and how it influences us?

When we understand what the fall is, we can see that there is a purpose to our living this life. Eve teaches us of this in Moses 5:11 which reads, “And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.” The purpose is to choose for ourselves what our eternal outcome will be. When we understand that we could not have gone any further in the eternities if we did not have the opportunity to live in mortality, we can be more grateful for the trials and suffering we experience in this life. Knowing that there is a greater future for myself and my family, gives me a greater faith and hope as I endure through my life. Understanding the fall, brings greater meaning to the redemption provided by the atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The point is that we are in a fallen state, but that there is the miracle of the atonement which can save us if we choose it.

I know that we should all be grateful for Adam and Eve and the outcome of their choice. It was a transgression that was necessary in order for each of us to have this mortal opportunity. While they introduced a lot of unpleasant mortal things to us, they also introduced countless others of so much greater importance. If not for the fall, the Savior would not have had the opportunity to fulfill his purpose. If not for the fall, none of us would have had the opportunity to fulfill our own purposes either, but we would have remained as we were forever. Because of them, we have the ability to experience eternal joy and exaltation. Adam and Eve are valiant souls, and the parents of us all, to whom we should have gratitude for our lives.

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The Creation

This is the fifth chapter of the Gospel Principles manual for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To view the entire lesson, go here: The Creation

God’s Plan for Us – Why did we need to come to the earth?

This question is one I have reflected on quite a bit lately. It is the purpose of our life. We came so that we can learn, grow and progress. We came so that we could become like our Father in Heaven. We came so that we could gain a body and experiences we could not have in the immortal state of heaven. We came so that we could have salvation and exaltation in eternity. God said, “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. (Moses 1:39)” To read more of my thoughts on this, go here: What is the Purpose of Our Lives?.

Why do you think we shouted for joy when we learned of the plan of salvation?

In the scriptures we can read of when Job asked God how the earth was created. In Job 38:7 he asked, “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” In the counsel in heaven, the hosts of heaven shouted for joy at the presentation of the plan of salvation. I think that we understood that we could go no further in the eternities without this amazing opportunity. I think we rejoiced in the ideas of what would come as a reward for living a good life. I think we rejoiced to know that we could prove ourselves to our Father in Heaven.

Carrying Out the Creation – What are the purposes of the Creation?

As part of the plan, the earth had to be created physically for us to inhabit. All living things on the earth had to be created as well. Jesus, under the direction of Heavenly Father, created the earth and all that grew and lived on it. In Moses 1:33 we read, “And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten.” I believe also, that many souls had the opportunity to serve in the creation, under the direction of the Savior. This earth was created in most simple terms, for the use of man.

However, there is so much more to the purpose of the creation than purely giving us a place to live in our mortal bodies. An even greater purpose of the creation, is to give us knowledge and wisdom. That may seem an odd thing to say, but I believe it is true. Everything we ever do, in our entire existence, has to do with creating. Understanding the creation of the earth and all things on it, helps us to learn of our own potential. In Doctrine and Covenants 132:20 we read of our potential, “Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.” We are working towards being able to create our own worlds, as gods in heaven. As we learn of the creation, we learn that order, work and rest are eternal principles that must be applied in all areas of our lives. When we take the time to learn about the creation, we learn to see the eternal value of all things. We can be more grateful and love with a greater love.

The earth was created to teach us how to properly take care of our own. In Doctrine and Covenants 104:13 we read, “For it is expedient that I, the Lord, should make every man accountable, as a steward over earthly blessings, which I have made and prepared for my creatures.” This is part of what we will be judged on when we return to Him someday. The creation teaches us the responsibility and divine traits of caring and nurturing that we need to strive towards.

The creation teaches us that the principle of delegation is also an eternal principle. God delegated to His Son, and the creation was the result. We can see that as parents we need to allow our own children the opportunity to create so that they can reach their own potential. We learn that allowing others to help us, gives everyone the opportunity to grow. These are just a few of the reasons that the earth was created.

God’s Creations Show His Love – How do God’s creations show that He loves us?

God’s creations are for man. In Doctrine and Covenants 59:20 we read, “And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion.” We learn in the scriptures that mankind has been given dominion over all of God’s other creations on earth. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (Genesis 1:26)” In a way, God has given all his creations to us as gifts. They are all for our good, and ultimately for our joy. In 2 Nephi 2:25 we read, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” Even those things that are annoyances to us now, are for our learning and growth, which will lead to an even greater joy in heaven.

What are some things you appreciate about God’s creations?

One of the things that I appreciate most about God’s creations is beauty. Ecclesiastes 3:11 reads, “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time . . .”. There is so much beauty in the way things have been made, as well as in the appearance of those things. I think that the way the human body works, with so many little parts working perfectly with other parts, is a beauty that cannot be duplicated by man. I think that the world in its different seasons, has beauties that are magnificent and inspiring. I saw a huge rainbow over my home this weekend and it was beautiful and amazing to see. I also appreciate the individuality of everything, even when things seem similar. The individuality makes me feel a personal love from God that is touching. I appreciate how things have been created to have relationships with others. The trees having need for us to live, and our need for the trees, is one relationship that amazes me often. The way the water cycle works to replenish the earth is incredible. There are purposes to things that we don’t even recognize yet, I am sure of it.

I am so grateful for the creations of my Father in Heaven. I am honored to be among such beautiful things each and every day. I hope that as I grow, I can become a better creator, and that someday I will be worthy of creating worlds as well.

Freedom to Choose

This is the forth chapter of the Gospel Principles manual for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To view the entire lesson, go here: Freedom to Choose

Agency Is an Eternal Principle – If someone asked you why it is important to have agency, what would you say?

Agency was given to us, by God, to allow us the opportunity to choose for ourselves if we would follow Him. It is an eternal principle which existed before life on this earth. We learn of our agency in the scriptures. In Doctrine and Covenants 29:36 we read, “And it came to pass that Adam, being tempted of the devil—for, behold, the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency;”. We used our agency and chose to follow the Savior. Agency is the thing that allows us to be free. It is the principle that causes us to learn, grow and ultimately to progress. Without agency, we cannot become more intelligent. Rather we are forced to remain in the same state forever, which is to be under the control of another. As an eternal principle, agency gives us the ability to become like our Father in Heaven, who is free to act for Himself in all things. In 2 Nephi 2:27 we read, “Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” Our agency gives us the eternal opportunity to be free like God, or be captive like the Devil. Abraham 3:24-25 says the following:

24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;

Agency also makes us responsible for our own decisions and therefore able to prove ourselves worthy to God by choosing to follow His commandments.

Agency Is a Necessary Part of the Plan of Salvation – How does making right choices help us make more right choices?

To every choice there is a consequence, either good or bad. There are many times when we are choosing between two good things and either consequence would be good. Then there are plenty of times when our choices are between that which is good and that which is bad. There is a feeling of peace and contentment when I know that I have made the right choice. This feeling is one that I long for often in my life. There is so much uncertainty and struggle in life, that a moment of peace can give me the strength to take the next step forward. Knowing that I can get peace from making the right choice, gives me a simple enough reason to continue making right choices. I know from study of the gospel, that the peace is a gift from God, through the blessings of the atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Agency Requires That There Be a Choice – Why is opposition necessary?

We learn from the scriptures that there has to be opposition in all things in order for us to progress. In 2 Nephi 2:11 we read, “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so . . . righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.” As an example of the importance of this, I have not experienced much death in my life so far. In fact, the only family member in my side of the family, who had passed away before 2010, was my great-grandmother. She died the day I was born, so I don’t really recall the experience that my family went through at her passing. In 2010, my Grandfather died from complications resulting from cancer. It was not entirely expected and progressed so quickly that the family was not really prepared for his death. I realized as we went through the process, that I never really knew the value of life until experiencing this so personally. I had an idea of principles and concepts, but I could not understand what I had not experienced. Our entire growth in knowledge and intelligence, depends on the experiences of life. We have to go through the opposition, in order to understand the joy. Doctrine and Covenants 29:39 reads, “And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet—”. We must learn to choose the good, in order to learn from our choices. The Savior had to suffer through the greatest opposition of all. Matthew 26:39 reads, “And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” By choice he followed God’s will and suffered even death for us so that we would have the ultimate ability to choose our eternal outcome.

What are some examples of actions that limit our choices? What are some examples of actions that give us more freedom?

Each consequence of our choices can either give us the freedom to choose more, or the limit to the choices we can make. In Doctrine and Covenants 88:86 we read, “Abide ye in the liberty wherewith ye are made free; entangle not yourselves in sin, but let your hands be clean, until the Lord comes.” An action that limits our choices, is anything which causes us to give of our freedom to choose, to another. We give this, when we put ourselves in some kind of bondage. As a temporal example, choosing to live life based on credit, gives the creditors the right to choose how our finances can be used. Many people have suffered greatly for this mistake in the recent years. On the other hand, living a life free of debt, gives us the freedom to spend our money how we choose and the freedom to keep the things that we own without someone waiting to take it all away from us.

Another example of an action which limits our choice, is partaking of something that impairs our own judgment. There are things which can affect us in a way where we become either dependent on that thing, or we physically cannot control our own thoughts and actions any longer. These things can be taken into our bodies, such as harmful substances, alcohol, and other drugs; or they can be things we choose to become addicted to, such as gambling or pornography. Before we can understand what is happening, we become bound to that thing and are unable to have the self-control to do something else. I have experienced my own types of addictions in life and I understand that the struggle to overcome them, no matter what they may be, is difficult and can feel next to impossible at times. The Savior taught of the power sin has over us. In John 8:34 we read, “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” We cannot have freedom if we choose to become a servant to sin and to the master of sin itself, Satan. On-the-other hand, when we keep ourselves free from addictions of any sort and from sin, we are completely free to act according to our own will, and more importantly, according to the will of God.

I am amazed at the wonderful gift of agency that we have been given. It is natural and right to be able to choose for ourselves and to be responsible for the path our life takes because of these choices. I cannot imagine the way life would be if agency did not exist. I know that agency gives purpose to our life and makes us better beings. I am so glad that I can gain knowledge and experience through my choices, good and bad.

Jesus Christ, Our Chosen Leader and Savior

This is the third chapter of the Gospel Principles manual for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To view the entire lesson, go here: Jesus Christ Our Chosen Leader and Savior.

A Savior and Leader Was Needed – Why did we need to leave Heavenly Father’s presence? Why do we need a Savior?

As part of the plan of God, or the plan of Salvation, we were to leave the pre-mortal world and the presence of our Heavenly Father. The reason for this, is that our progression would have been halted and none would have been able to truly become like God, the Father. We needed to be able to gain a physical body and experience mortality, where we could use our agency without the constant connection with God. We needed a chance to prove ourselves faithful to Him and we needed to experience the opposition that is found in the world, so that we could fully appreciate the blessings of eternity. Alma 12:24 reads, “And we see that death comes upon mankind, yea, the death which has been spoken of by Amulek, which is the temporal death; nevertheless there was a space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead.” In was necessary for us to enter this state of probation so that we could be ready to meet God again. Also, in Abraham 3 we read the following:

24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
26 And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.
27 And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first.

There would have been no way to return to God, without a Savior. As part of the plan, Adam and Eve had to choose mortality. This was the only way for us to come to the earth. However, in being cast out of the Garden, they were separated physically and spiritually from God. The only way to return to live with God, was to live perfect lives, which is not a condition for any except for the Savior himself. The Savior provided the only way for us to return, when he experienced the atonement for everyone.

Jesus Christ Became Our Chosen Leader and Savior – What are some feelings you have about the Savior?

As a member of the LDS faith, I believe that there was a council held in heaven, during the pre-mortal existence. In this council, God revealed His plan to all of us. Because a Savior was necessary to His plan, a Savior presented himself. Jesus Christ had already been chosen to be the Savior, as he was the firstborn Son of God. Satan, however, wanted to gain the glory, and so he offered himself to be the Savior of our world. Christ was chosen and Satan was angry. We can read about this in Moses, chapter 4 which says the following:

1 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.
2 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.
3 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;
4 And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.

The Only Begotten of God was chosen from the beginning to be the Savior of the world. Satan could not change that, and in his anger he rebelled against God.

The War in Heaven – In what ways does the War in Heaven continue today?

When Satan rebelled against God, he took all the souls with him who wanted to rebel as well. These souls made up one-third of the host of heaven. In Revelation, chapter 12 we read the following:

7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

As a combined force in rebellion, they began a war in heaven, which continues today. Much of the world does not recognize that a war continues to be fought with Satan. He and his forces are among us, constantly attacking us and the things that we should hold dear. They desire for us to join them, by wasting away our lives in sin and destruction. They tempt us to do the things that bind us to Satan. Not enough recognize the strength that we have over our spiritual enemies. We kept our first estate by following our Savior, Jesus Christ, and coming to live on this earth. Because of this, we are stronger and have the power and ability to use our agency righteously. The angels of Satan are bound to do his will for eternity. In 2 Nephi 2:27 we read, “Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” We can be blessed with the power of God on our side, if we are faithful to the Lord. We have the power to choose our own liberty and eternal life, if we look to the Savior and His teachings.

We Have the Savior’s Teachings to Follow – How have the Savior’s teachings influenced you?

Personally, I don’t think I have studied the teachings of the Savior nearly enough in my life. I plan on changing that through this medium of study and through a study of with my family this year. I can say that my life is constantly affected by His teachings which I have studied. I think the greatest influence it has on me, is that I see my life as a small moment of a much greater picture. I believe that the Savior has taught us there is something greater than what we now understand. He taught of higher laws and greater rewards for becoming more like Him. For example, in the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5, the Savior teaches the following:

21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment . . .

There are things that we can do which take us a step closer to Godliness. The temptation to kill another has never come to my mind. I could never imagine myself, in my right mind, ever even contemplating it. This is not a temptation that I believe I will have in this life. I do find myself, however, getting frustrated to a point that can lead to being angry with another. The Savior teaches me that I should take the law a step further and live a life void of anger towards another. This is just one of many examples of this in his teachings. With each of these teachings, the Savior makes amazing promises to those who follow His teachings. I find myself yearning for those things that He promises us. The Savior’s teachings encourage me to look forward with hope by trying every day to be better than the day before. The teachings of the Lord, help me to be strong in the face of the adversary. I have a hope that the righteous and faithful will be victorious in the end and will receive the promised blessings of the Lord.

Our Heavenly Family

This is the second chapter of the Gospel Principles manual for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To view the entire lesson, go here: Our Heavenly Family.

We Are Children of Our Heavenly Father – What do scriptures and latter-day prophets teach us about our relationship to God?

I have been thinking a lot about this lately. In my recent post on being a daughter of God, I quoted many of the scriptures which say that we are indeed children of God. We are his spiritual offspring. We lived with him in a pre-mortal existence and have the ability to become like our Father in Heaven someday. In God’s plan for His children, He has made it possible for us to return to live with Him again. (See How Do We Know We Are Spiritually Born of God? for more thoughts on this question.)

How does your knowledge that you are a child of God influence your thoughts, words, and actions?

There is not a day that goes by, that I do not think about how my choices affect my relationship with God. I have a testimony that I am a child of God and that my thoughts and actions in this life will determine the reward my Father gives me after this life. I think often about whether or not my choices will make God proud of me. I aspire to be the kind of person who finds favor with God, the way the great people in the scriptures did. I know that if I did not know or believe that God is my Heavenly Father, I would not try so hard to do what is right. This knowledge also helps me to have the will and desire to repent for the mistakes I make. I know that I am far from perfect, and in order to become more like Him, I need to be better, make changes, and be repentant for those things that take me away from Him.

We Developed Personalities and Talents While We Lived in Heaven – Think about talents and gifts you have been blessed with.

As a mother of three, I have witnessed the fact that infants come to this earth with their own distinct personalities and talents. Each of my children are different, even though they have familial similarities. One can see that these personalities are a part of our individual makeup. One of the things that I believe develops personalities and talents is the choices we make. In the pre-mortal existence, we had agency. We can know of at least one choice that we were willing to make, which was that we chose to follow the plan to follow the Savior rather than Satan. I am sure that our agency allowed us to make countless other choices which helped us to develop our individual personalities and talents before we came to the earth. We are taught in Doctrine and Covenants 138:56 that there was teaching in the pre-mortal world as well. In that verse we read, “Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men.” We were learning about the kind of people we wanted to be long before we were born on the earth.

How have other people’s talents blessed you? How can your talents and gifts bless others?

I am so grateful that we are all different kinds of people with different personalities and talents. This makes life interesting and gives greater purpose to our being here in this preparatory state. I cannot begin to measure the blessings that I have received from the talents of others. So often they inspire me to work on my own talents, find ways to improve myself, and feel the inspiration of the Holy Ghost in ways I could not on my own. The talents of others make up for the areas I am lacking, while my talents make up for their own. When we work together, we can accomplish many great and wonderful things. I am a firm believer in the principle that all our talents can be used to further the work of God on this earth and I think we all can find ways to use what we have been blessed with for good. This is because all good gifts come from God. In James 1:17 we read, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” We show the greatest amount and quality of gratitude to the Lord, by using those gifts to do what he would have us do.

Our Heavenly Father Presented a Plan for Us to Become Like Him – How does earth life help prepare us to become like our Heavenly Father?

As a member of the LDS faith, I believe that God had and presented a plan for us, while we existed in the pre-mortal world. In Abraham 3:22 we read the following:

22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;
23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.
24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
26 And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.
27 And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first.
28 And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him.

The plan was for a world to be created for us to prove that we could follow the commandments of God and therefore gain our second estate, or eternal life. As I said above, this is a preparatory state we are in now. We are living this life, to prepare to become like our Father in Heaven, who is perfect. This is part of the plan of God, or the plan of Salvation. Through our life experiences, both good and bad, we gain knowledge we cannot gain otherwise. We can be told that kindness is godly, but we cannot learn that for ourselves without putting it to the test. This is the perfect testing ground for us. We couldn’t gain a true understanding by God making us be kind to others, or by Him taking us by the hand to do it either. We needed separation from him and a chance to truly use the gift of agency that He has given each of us. In addition, we could not learn how to be like God, if we were always spiritual beings. We had to come to earth and gain physical bodies in order to be able to become resurrected beings later. We could not learn how to have joy without pain and part of the pain had to be physical. Because we have the ability to experience all things spiritually and physically, we can gain the joy that Heavenly Father has promised us.

List some of Heavenly Father’s attributes. How does the plan of salvation help us develop these attributes?

The scriptures teach us the attributes of God. In 1 John 4:8 we read one, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” Heavenly Father is loving. He is also charitable, wise, full of knowledge, full of joy, all-powerful, just and true, among countless other good things. Through the plan of salvation, we have the opportunity to learn to have this attributes in our own lives. We can gain knowledge by seeking for it and testing the principles of the gospel in our daily activities. We can learn to be just and true by discovering what is good, righteous, honest and fair in the way that God intended it. We can gain the attribute of being all-powerful, by becoming worthy of priesthood blessings which are from the power of God. The more we can gain from these blessings in our lives, the more power will be allotted to us from God. This is not the kind of power that men seek after in this life, but it is the power to be and act as God would himself. The plan of salvation allows us the opportunity to learn and grow to eventually become what God is and gain all that He has.

We are children of God and as such, we have the ability to become like He is. This is what he wants for each of us. I am so grateful for the knowledge that I have a Father of my spirit and that I can look to Him and His holy Son for examples of the person I want to become. I am glad that I am an individual with my own unique gifts and abilities. Being able to use these to help others and to draw nearer to my Father in Heaven, is an amazing gift. I hope that I will recognize the attributes of God that I have, as well as those that I need to work on, so that I can become more like He wants me to be.

Our Father in Heaven

I recently studied the last chapter of the LDS Gospel Principles manual, but I realized that when I had studied the first few chapters back in 2010, I did not post about them. I want that category to be complete, so I am going to do a few posts from the beginning of the book. To view the entire lesson, go here: Our Father in Heaven.

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe that there truly is a God. I believe that there is only one true God and that He is our creator and Father of our spirits. I believe that he loves us and that he wants us to become like Him and live with Him again someday.

What are some things that testify to you that there is a God?

There is evidence of God all around us. In my opinion, it is impossible to look at the expanse of the stars in heaven and doubt that something wonderful created them for us. There is evidence of a creator in the amazing things of nature that are all around us. How the planets move is evidence to me. The cycle of water is evidence to me. The way our bodies work is evidence to me. Just the other day, I was watching a flock of birds in their v-shaped pattern. There was one in front making it easier for the rest to fly and then moving gracefully together. As I watched, I thought of how perfect the natural instinct to work together was for those birds and how there must have been a God to create such beauty and skill. My favorite scripture passage is about nature in relation to God. In Doctrine and Covenants 88 we read the following:

42 And again, verily I say unto you, he hath given a law unto all things, by which they move in their times and their seasons;
43 And their courses are fixed, even the courses of the heavens and the earth, which comprehend the earth and all the planets.
44 And they give light to each other in their times and in their seasons, in their minutes, in their hours, in their days, in their weeks, in their months, in their years—all these are one year with God, but not with man.
45 The earth rolls upon her wings, and the sun giveth his light by day, and the moon giveth her light by night, and the stars also give their light, as they roll upon their wings in their glory, in the midst of the power of God.

This is a testimony of the power and majesty of God. I have grown up in the church, so I’ve heard of God for as long as I can remember. This however, is not the reason for my belief in God. I have felt the witness of the spirit in my own heart, confirming that God is real and that he loves me. The spirit testifies to me that there is a God.

The scriptures, which I believe to be true, testify of God. In Moses 7:4 we read, “And I saw the Lord; and he stood before my face, and he talked with me, even as a man talketh one with another, face to face; and he said unto me: Look, and I will show unto thee the world for the space of many generations.” Moses saw God and talked with him face-to-face. Also, in Genesis 32 we read the following:

29 And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.
30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

Jacob also saw God face to face. These are just two witnesses of a physical manifestation of God to man on the earth.

What are some of God’s attributes?

God is eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing, wise, loving, merciful and kind. As a member of the LDS faith, I believe that there is a great deal we can understand about God’s physical attributes as well. God is our spiritual Father, and therefore we are created in His image. In Genesis 1:27 we read, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” This means that God has a body with flesh and bones, just as we do. In Genesis 32:30 we read, “And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” God has a face, just as we have a face. In Exodus 24:10 we read, “And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.” He has feet, as we have feet. In Exodus 31:18 we read, “And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.” God has hands with fingers, just as we do. Then in Matthew 3:17 we read, “And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” God speaks as we speak. He is not always understood by mankind, but he does speak to us.He is a resurrected, perfected being Himself, so he does not have the blood of mortality, but I believe that He did at one time. His body is one of glory, which has been described with words such as fire and light. In short, God is not some unknown mass in his physical nature, but we can know what He looks like, because He created us to be like Him.

He is a separate being from His Son, Jesus Christ, and His Spirit, the Holy Ghost. When He appeared with His Son, to the prophet, Joseph Smith, it was witnessed that they were two personages. In Joseph Smith-History 1:17 we read the account, “It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” Likewise, we read in Acts 7:55, “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,” God, the Father, sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to be the Savior of all mankind. God is a being of order and has a plan laid out for all people, so that we would have the best opportunity to have eternal life and salvation. In his great love, He does all that He we allow Him to do, to bring us back to dwell with him forever. He is the master teacher and gives us every opportunity to learn of Him. He knows us better than anyone else and therefore knows just how we will learn eternal principles the best. He gives us the gift of His Spirit to be with us and help us in so many ways. God is the giver of agency and awesome spiritual gifts as well. I am so grateful for the gifts that God gives me.

Why is it important for us to understand the nature of God?

If we are able to understand the nature of God, we can better understand His plan and why we should do what is right. When we understand that God is a loving and kind father, we know that all things that make us feel unloved and mis-treated are not from Him, but are counterfeits of Satan. God’s ways are always good because that is the nature of God. In Alma 7:20 we read, ” 20 I perceive that it has been made known unto you, by the testimony of his word, that he cannot walk in crooked paths; neither doth he vary from that which he hath said; neither hath he a shadow of turning from the right to the left, or from that which is right to that which is wrong; therefore, his course is one eternal round.” When we understand that God is the same now as he was in ancient times, we will not be led astray by those who say we need to change with the times. When we understand that God is a being that we are created after, we can better see ourselves coming closer to Him, and eventually being able to be like Him. When we understand that his plan is to give us joy and happiness forever, we can make choices that will lead us down His path of righteousness. In John 17:3 we read, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” Knowing God is what will bring us salvation. If we do not try to understand and know Him, when the opportunity has been placed before us, then we bring about our own destruction here and damnation in the spirit world.

How can we come to know God?

In Doctrine and Covenants 93:1 we read, “Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am;”. These are the ways that we come to know God: repentance, faith, prayer, and obedience to the commandments. This may sound like the typical Sunday School response, but sometimes the simplest answer is the best. I believe that this is true. We come to know God by following His words, which we find when we study the scriptures and listen to the prophets today. His words teach us these principles of repentance, faith, prayer, and obedience. We cannot expect to live with God again, if we do not take the time to understand the ways of His kingdom. When we live His word, we will become more like Him and will be deserving of His glory when we face Him again someday.

Jesus taught his disciples that if we would look to Him, we would come to know God, the Father. In John 14:6-9 we read the following:

6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.
8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?

We know the Father, by following His Son. I am so grateful that we have the example of Jesus Christ to look towards, so that we can become more like God. I know that God lives and that He loves each of us. I know that we can truly know Him, by following His commandments. I am so grateful for the gospel which teaches us these things, and that the scriptures are made available to us in so many ways today. I hope that all people can discover the nature of God and experience the blessings of joy that come from living to know God.

Exaltation

To view the entire Gospel Principles chapter, go here: Exaltation

What is exaltation?

Exaltation is the reward given to mankind by God, for following his commandments, and making and keeping sacred covenants in this life. It is the ability to live with God again, in his presence. This is part of God’s plan of salvation. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), we believe in a spiritual life before this earth life, and a life after we die. We will be rewarded and receive a glory based on how we choose to live our lives. In Doctrine and Covenants 132 we read the following:

3 Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same.
4 For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.

Obedience to what we know to be true gospel is the key. We can only live in the presence of God again, if we receive his glory, which is the glory of the Celestial kingdom. This is the goal that we had before this life and is the hope of our Father in Heaven for each of us. There are two other degrees of glory which one can receive, the terrestrial and telestial. Only those who are the worst sinners of mankind, will not receive one of these degrees of glory, but will be cast into outer darkness with Satan and his spiritual followers. We should be striving for the glory of the Celestial kingdom, the highest of the degrees of glory.

Exaltation is our divine inheritance as children of God. In Romans chapter 8, we read the following:

16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

We are promised that we will receive His kingdom and all that He has, if we are obedient and faithful followers of Christ. In obedience we must make the required covenants. These include baptism and confirmation, priesthood ordination for men, endowments, and celestial marriage. All of these must be performed after the patter God has commanded and through the proper priesthood authority. Then our obedience continues by faithfully living up to those covenants to the end of our days in this life. For those who do not have the opportunity to know of the gospel in this life, these blessings will be available to them through proxy after they have died.

What are some blessings that will be given to those who are exalted?

In addition to receiving the glory of God, we will be able to be like Him and have all that He has. In Psalms 16:11, we read, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” With exaltation comes a fulness of joy. I have felt some intense moments of joy in my life, such as the moment I held my third baby who I felt I had to fight for before she came. I was so overcome that I could not hold back the tears of joy. A fulness of joy is a feeling that I look forward to with great anticipation. Also from this verse we learn that we will have pleasures forever. There are plenty of things in this life that bring us pleasure, but these things are fleeting. Earthly pleasures do not last forever and they will not bring us full joy. We have the promise of pleasure for eternity, which is amazing.

In Revelation 3:21 we read, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” If we receive exaltation, we will be able to be with God and Jesus Christ. We will be able to speak to them face-to-face. This blessing is hard to imagine, knowing that they are perfect beings and can only be with those who are also perfected. A blessing of exaltation is the condition of being perfected through our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Doctrine and Covenants 132:20 reads, “Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.” Those who receive exaltation, will become Gods without end and with all the power of God. When it says they have no end, I don’t think this just means they live forever, because I think that all resurrected beings live forever in their degree of glory. I think that this means, they have the ability to increase forever. That means that they can have an eternity of spiritual offspring, creating spiritual bodies just like our Father in Heaven created us. To support this, we read the following in Doctrine and Covenants 131:

1 In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;
2 And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];
3 And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.
4 He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase.

Celestial marriage, which cannot be accomplished without all other ordinances and covenants being made prior to it, is the key to receiving all that God has promised us. There are amazing blessings that await the faithful, including all power, all knowledge, and the power to rule over all things they create. (To read more about the blessings of those who receive a Celestial glory, read Doctrine and Covenants 76:59-70.)

How do ordinances and covenants prepare us for exaltation?

If we can learn to follow the commandments in this life, we will be able to live the law of the Celestial Kingdom. In Doctrine and Covenants 88 we read the following:

22 For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.
23 And he who cannot abide the law of a terrestrial kingdom cannot abide a terrestrial glory.
24 And he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore he is not meet for a kingdom of glory. Therefore he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory.

We cannot hope to abide in the presence of God, if we do not know how to listen and follow his commandments. Some may think that this will halt progression, but it is truly the opposite. With obedience to laws, we become free to act as we choose without the fear of loosing all that we have been given.

How does faith in Jesus Christ help us obey the commandments?

If we gain a faith in Jesus Christ, then we know what we are living for. Faith in Jesus Christ, brings a peace of mind that cannot be forfeited by anything else. That peace is comforting and pushes us to give strict obedience to the commandments. I believe that faith is a word of action. You cannot have faith without doing something with that faith. Having faith in Jesus Christ, means having a willingness in our hearts to live as he lived, and to follow his teachings. In 1 Nephi 7:12 we read, “Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him? Wherefore, let us be faithful to him.” If we show our faith in God, we allow Him to work in our lives. He can give us a strength, peace, and happiness that we cannot get in any other way. With the gift of strength, we can find the will to obey the commandments.

Why must we learn to follow the direction of the Holy Ghost to become exalted?

I think that part of the reason is that we must learn to rely on Him for guidance, just as we need to learn to rely on our Savior for the atonement and on God for his love, justice and mercy. The godhead is one in purpose. In Mormon 7:7 we read, “And he hath brought to pass the redemption of the world, whereby he that is found guiltless before him at the judgment day hath it given unto him to dwell in the presence of God in his kingdom, to sing ceaseless praises with the choirs above, unto the Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which are one God, in a state of happiness which hath no end.” Each of the three personages that make up the godhead, follow the same plan. What the spirit teaches us, is what the Savior would teach us. Everything the Savior said, were the words of God to us. We must follow the direction of the Holy Ghost to put our desires and will in line with God. With all things in line, order and peace will remain in the eternities.

What happens when we have endured to the end in faithful discipleship to Christ?

When we have endured and done our very best to be faithful to the Savior, we will be welcomed with open arms into the Kingdom of Heaven. Our spiritual Father, will extend his arms to us with a complete and perfect love. He will then offer to us a place in His mansion. We will again learn at His feet and will continue to progress to our perfection in all things. In Matthew 25:23 we read, “His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” In this life, we are given a few things to improve upon and learn self-mastery over. When we endure in faith, we can say to the Lord that we did all that we could with his gifts, then he can say these words to us. I know that I fall short each day, but this is a life to learn. It takes mistakes and trials to overcome and improve ourselves. I will be so grateful to hear these words from the Lord after this life, and so I want to try my best and be a little better each day.

The Final Judgment

The next lesson from the Gospel Principles manual is on the final judgment. To view the entire lesson from the manual, go here: The Final Judgment

What are some different judgments that come before the Final Judgment? How do all these judgments relate to one another?

There are judgments in a court of law, relating to the land in which we live. There are judgments in competitions of all types, in order to decide who or what is deserving of a title, reward, or prize. There are judgments made in order for us to be found worthy to be baptized, go to the temple, or hold callings in the church as well. These, along with all other judgments, will come before the final judgment, which relates to our eternal reward. In Alma 12:27 we read, “But behold, it was not so; but it was appointed unto men that they must die; and after death, they must come to judgment, even that same judgment of which we have spoken, which is the end.” There will be a final judgment for all men. All judgments have some kind of decision made by a judge, or someone who is considered qualified to give their opinion. In the case of the final judgment, God will be our judge. In Proverbs 29:26 we read, “Many seek the ruler’s favour; but every man’s judgment cometh from the Lord.” No matter what we seek for in this life, the Lord will give the final judgment.

From what records will we be judged? Who will judge us?

In 1 Nephi 10:20 we read, “Therefore remember, O man, for all thy doings thou shalt be brought into judgment.” We will be judge for all that we do, from the records that are kept of those things. There are books that have been kept from the time of Adam, which keep a record of our works in this life. In Daniel 7:10 we read, “A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” The footnotes refer to the book of remembrance and the book of life. The book of remembrance is a record of genealogy and history of the people and I believe it is the record kept on this earth. The book of life is a record showing those who lived faithful who made covenants with the Lord. Those who are not faithful are blotted out of this book and this book is kept in heaven. In Doctrine and Covenants 128:7 we have an explanation of Revelations 20:12 which reads, “You will discover in this quotation that the books were opened; and another book was opened, which was the book of life; but the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works; consequently, the books spoken of must be the books which contained the record of their works, and refer to the records which are kept on the earth. And the book which was the book of life is the record which is kept in heaven; the principle agreeing precisely with the doctrine which is commanded you in the revelation contained in the letter which I wrote to you previous to my leaving my place—that in all your recordings it may be recorded in heaven.”

The lesson talks about a judgment which comes from the record kept within each of us. Just as in this life, we are our own worst critics, we will be a critic of ourselves at that time. When all things are brought to our remembrance, we will see our own works truthfully. We will then bare a record of our works, which may condemn or bless us. The judgment will ultimately be by God. In Ecclesiastes 3:17 we read, “I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.” Our every work has a purpose, and that purpose will be in judgement by God. God, the Father, has given the right to judge this final judgment, to His Son. In Matthew 16:27 we read, “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” It is my understanding that the Son, will have the assistance of those who have been called to judge in this life, such as the prophet, apostles, stake presidents, and bishops.

How will our faithfulness during our life on earth influence our life in the eternities?

In life, we act according to our faithfulness. If we are faithful to the Lord, we are obedient to his commandments. If we are not faithful, we are obedient to Satan. In Ecclesiastes 12:14 we read, “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” We will be blessed for our faithfulness to God. This blessing will be the reward of glory, which we receive depending on the works of our lives. Those who are obedient and covenant people, in life or death, will be rewarded with the Celestial kingdom. Those who do not will receive either the Terrestrial or Telestial kingdom, depending on their choices in life. There is also the reward of outer darkness, which is reserved for those who choose to remain eternally bound to Satan and his works.

Faith is a Sunrise

According to Doctrine and Covenants 76:50–53, 62–70, what are the characteristics of a person who overcomes the world by faith and is valiant in the testimony of Jesus?

In these verses, a person who overcomes the world by faith and is valiant in the testimony of Jesus is someone who will be resurrected with the just in the first resurrection. They will come to the earth with Christ, when he comes at the second coming. They will have had faith in Christ and will have been baptized in His church by the proper authority of God, which is the priesthood. They will have received the gift of the Holy Ghost. They will have lived good lives and been just and true, therefore deserving the perfection that is only received through the atonement of Jesus Christ. They will be found worthy by the desires of their hearts and will have been forgiven of their sins. In 1 Samuel 16:7 we read, “But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” We may not recognize the true heart of others, because as mortals, we cannot know the true heart of them. We are not qualified to be the judge. The Lord himself, was judged by men and then crucified by those who were not counted worthy to judge him. The Lord can see beyond our flaws and see the inner beauty in our hearts. He alone is worthy to be the judge of all mankind. Those who overcome the world, will have been judged of God and found worthy to live with Him again, in His holy city of Zion, receiving the celestial glory of God as their reward. These are the characteristics that we all should be striving towards.

In one of my favorite chapters of the Book of Mormon, Alma 5, we read verse 15 which says, “Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?” I know that there will be a day when we all will be judged for how we lived our lives. I believe that our attitudes and desires will weigh heavy in that judgement. I believe that if we want to live with God again, we need to remember the bigger picture. We need to remember that we have a divine heritage. Be have been created to become all that our Father in Heaven is. We each have great potential. If we remember this, we should do our best to live up to that potential. We will make mistakes and we will have to go through the pain and sorrow of them. But, we can still reach that goal if we remember that the Savior is there for us. He is a just judge, but he is also full of mercy towards those who come unto him. A change of heart and a repentant, humble soul, will earn the greatest reward that we can ever hope to gain. God loves us. His greatest desire is for our return to Him. I hope and pray that I will be able to bring him the joy that a faithful child can.

The Millennium

To view the entire Gospel Principles lesson go here: The Millennium.

The Millennium is the time period of a thousand years, when the Savior will come to reign upon the earth. In Doctrine and Covenants 29:11 we read, “For I will reveal myself from heaven with power and great glory, with all the hosts thereof, and dwell in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall not stand.” At His coming, all the wickedness in the world will be destroyed. Many people will remain to live through this time.

Who will be on the earth during the Millennium?

First of all, the Savior will be on the earth during the Millennium. In Daniel 7:14 we read, “And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” All the righteous will serve him. In addition, all those who are righteous, covenanted people, will be on the earth during the Millennium. They will be doing a great amount of missionary work and temple work to build up the kingdom of God. But they are not the only people who will remain in that day. All people who have lived good lives and did not go about working evil intentionally, will also be on the earth. They will have the opportunity to hear the gospel and choose if they will accept it or not. All righteous people, covenant or not, will have much that we have now. They will still build families and work to provide for them. They will still have to deal with the weaknesses of the mortal body, such as sickness and injury. But, they will live free of the whisperings of Satan and his followers. This will cause it to be a time of peace, which has not existed on the earth. There will be others on the earth, who are righteous beings who by that point have already been resurrected. They will be on the earth to do the work of the Lord along with the saints.

What are the two great works that will be done during the Millennium?

As I mentioned above, the saints will be doing missionary work and temple work. Through missionary work, the gospel will be taken to every soul on the earth and everyone will eventually know that Jesus is the Christ. In addition, missionary work will continue in the spirit world. Then, all people will have the opportunity to choose if they will become a member of Christ’s church and make sacred covenants with him, or to choose something else. (To read more about missionary work, see Gospel Principles: Missionary Work). Those who make covenants with him, will eventually have the opportunity to receive the blessings of the celestial kingdom, and those who do not will inherit the terrestrial kingdom. These covenants will include those of baptism, as well as those made in the temple. Temple work will be the second great work done during the Millennium. This work will be done for those living as well as for those who are dead. Only a small portion of this work is being accomplished now and there is so much left to do. Every soul will have the opportunity to have work done for them, and just like those who are living, they will have the chance to choose if they will accept it or not. (To read more about temple work, see Gospel Principles: Temple Work and Family History).

How can we prepare now for work in the Millennium?

We prepare for this work now, by gaining a testimony for ourselves. We must prepare by listening to the words of His holy prophets. In 1 Nephi 22:20 we read, “And the Lord will surely prepare a way for his people, unto the fulfilling of the words of Moses, which he spake, saying: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that all those who will not hear that prophet shall be cut off from among the people.” Joseph Smith was raised to be this prophet, who brought the fullness of the gospel and leads the people of God through his work and testimony. We need to discover for ourselves the truth of that testimony, so that we can take it to all people. We become the saints of God, committing ourselves to building His kingdom on the earth. We need to live worthy of doing the work of the Lord, and learn how to do missionary and temple work now. We prepare by making the will of the Lord a priority in our lives, so that it will be a priority then.

In what ways will life during the Millennium be different from life on the earth now?

As I said above, there will be differences in life now and that life during the Millenium. One of the differences, is that there will be no more war or fighting. In Isaiah 2:4 we read, “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” I can’t even imagine the peace that will exist because there will be no war. Another difference will be in the earth itself. The earth will be renewed to a garden of eden state. In Ezekiel 36:35 we read, “And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.” The land will be beautiful all over.

In addition, people will not be made to suffer the waiting period of death as they do now. When someone dies, they must wait until their time in the first resurrection. In that day, all who grow old and die, will be changed in a twinkling of an eye, or will become the resurrected being, ready to continue the work on the earth. In Doctrine and Covenants 63:51 we read, “Wherefore, children shall grow up until they become old; old men shall die; but they shall not sleep in the dust, but they shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye.” What an amazing promise of the resurrection. Those who were not righteous and died before the Second Coming of the Lord, will be made to wait until the end of the Millennium, before they will be resurrected and receive their reward.

As I reviewed the Topical Guide, I discovered something new. There is a line in the Lord’s prayer, which is directly related to time of the Millennium. In Matthew 6:10 it reads, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Not only will the kingdom of God be established on the earth in its fullness, with the Lord at its head, but the will of God will be accomplished on the earth, just as it is in heaven. I knew this was going to be the state of the Millennium, but I never realized that it was a part of the prayer which the Lord gave as an example to us of how we should pray.

When this kingdom is established, the people on earth will live righteously and Satan will not be able to influence the hearts of men. In 1 Nephi 22:26 we read, “And because of the righteousness of his people, Satan has no power; wherefore, he cannot be loosed for the space of many years; for he hath no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness, and the Holy One of Israel reigneth.” Therefore, people, who are naturally good people, who would have listened to the tempting whispering of Satan in moments of weakness, will not have those temptations from him. This is a huge difference in the world at that time. Part of the loss of power for Satan, will come from everyone having truths revealed to them. In Doctrine and Covenants 101:32 we read, “Yea, verily I say unto you, in that day when the Lord shall come, he shall reveal all things—”. Everyone will know that he is the Christ, and that there is a God and an eternal purpose for us all. All things will be revealed and those who are willing, will be able to accept them.

What are your thoughts and feelings about the conditions that will exist during the Millennium?

I believe that the daily life will be much the same for us. We will still be working to provide for our bodies and spirits. We will still be building families, having children, building our homes, and dealing with the flaws of human bodies, but we will be doing all these things in righteousness. I look forward to this day with great anticipation and hope. I want to be there to experience it for myself. I know it will be a great blessing to live in the times of the Millennium. I also know that it will be a blessing to serve the Lord on the earth, wether in life or death.

What will be the final destiny of the earth?

The earth was created to be a resting place for all the righteous who inherit the glory of the Celestial kingdom. It’s destiny is of a celestial glory as well and it will be a paradise for those who deserving of it. In Doctrine and Covenants 29:23 we read, “And the end shall come, and the heaven and the earth shall be consumed and pass away, and there shall be a new heaven and a new earth.” The earth will be a new earth. This glory and rest will come to the earth, after the final battle between good and evil. Satan will be destroyed and cast into outer darkness, never to inflict his torment on the earth again. I have great hope in this promise that the prophets have given. I pray that many souls will find Christ and accept his gospel, so that they too can inherit the blessings of a Celestial earth.

The Second Coming of Jesus Christ

The lessons from the Gospel Principles manual finished in my ward, but sadly we did not go through the entire book. I’m not one for letting it go without completing the book, so I’m going to continue posting my thoughts on the rest of the book. To view the entire lesson go here: The Second Coming of Jesus Christ (Note: I do not include the entire lesson, just my take on the questions it poses and thoughts on the general topics.

There are several verses in the scriptures, which teach us of the coming of Christ in the latter-days. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), I am a firm believer in this principle of the gospel. The Savior came to the earth over 2000 years ago, and he lived and died for all mankind. But that was not the end of his works on the earth. The Savior will return again, to rule and reign on this earth. It is that time, that I look forward to with hope and purpose.

What Will Jesus Do When He Comes Again?

At his coming, all the wicked will be destroyed. In 2 Thessalonians 2 we read the following:

8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

No one who desires to do wickedness will be able to withstand the brightness and power of the Lord’s glory and will therefore be destroyed at his coming. His glory will separate the righteous from the wicked and will judge all people. That same glory will be used to refine those who remain. In Malachi 3 we read the following:

1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.
2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:
3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.

Those who hold the priesthood, will be purified in order to make a righteous offering in the temple, which is where the Lord will be. In addition, Jesus will make himself known to all people when he comes again. In Isaiah 40:5 we read, “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Everyone will witness the glory of Christ because He will reveal himself to all people. He will reign over the earth as well. In Doctrine and Covenants 76:63 we read, “These are they whom he shall bring with him, when he shall come in the clouds of heaven to reign on the earth over his people.”

Jesus Christ will be the spiritual and political leader of the world, with all governments beneath him. This will mark the beginning of His Millennial reign on the earth. At this time, he will continue dwell on earth with his people. In Doctrine and Covenants 104:59 we read, “For the purpose of building up my church and kingdom on the earth, and to prepare my people for the time when I shall dwell with them, which is nigh at hand.” The Savior will remain on the earth and work along side those who choose to follow Him.

Also, Jesus Christ will reveal all the hidden truths to those who are willing. In Doctrine and Covenants 101 we read the following:

32 Yea, verily I say unto you, in that day when the Lord shall come, he shall reveal all things—
33 Things which have passed, and hidden things which no man knew, things of the earth, by which it was made, and the purpose and the end thereof—
34 Things most precious, things that are above, and things that are beneath, things that are in the earth, and upon the earth, and in heaven.

This will be an amazing time of knowledge and understanding, which has never been before. This is something that I really am anxious for. I have a thirst for gospel knowledge. To believe that there will be a time on this earth, when all the revelations of the ancient and modern prophets, will be known by those on the earth, is amazing.

When the Savior comes again, he will bring the work of the first resurrection with him. All those who died willing to serve Him, will rise again and work alongside the living and Christ, during the time of the Millennium. In Doctrine and Covenants 133:56 we read, “And the graves of the saints shall be opened; and they shall come forth and stand on the right hand of the Lamb, when he shall stand upon Mount Zion, and upon the holy city, the New Jerusalem; and they shall sing the song of the Lamb, day and night forever and ever.” There will be so much work to accomplish and it will be able to be done with the help of those who have faithfully gone before.

What are your thoughts and feelings as you contemplate the events of the Second Coming?

I am overwhelmed by the amount of excitement I feel inside when I reflect on the future coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I want to be with the saints at that day, so that I can rejoice in the blessings of His coming. I strive each day to live a good life, so that I can be numbered with His followers. His coming will bring blessings beyond my wildest imaginations and I know in my heart that this is true. I want to have no doubt in my soul, and peace at the time of His coming. I hope to say, as the prophet Joseph said near his own death, “I am calm as a summer’s morning; I have a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men.”

How Will We Know When the Savior’s Coming Is Near?

In His great mercy and wisdom, God has given us many signs to know when the Savior’s coming is getting near. Many of these signs have already come to pass. We are living in the last days and His coming is not far away. (To read more about these signs, see Signs of the Second Coming from the last Gospel Principles lesson.

How Can We Be Ready When the Savior Comes?

Mostly, I think that living today as if He were here right now, is the best way to be ready. We cannot procrastinate our preparation. We have been promised that he will come as a thief in the night. In 1 Thessalonians 5:2 we read, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” No one will know and it will most likely be at a time when most people least expect it. We show that we are people who live by faith, when we live each day in preparation for Him. How do we do this? We prepare when we read the scriptures and follow the commandments that are found in them. We should be striving to strengthen our personal testimonies and also helping our family to be stronger in their faith. We prepare by listening to the words of the Prophet, who is His holy mouthpiece today. We prepare by removing the things from our lives that would prevent us from being worthy to stand in His presence. We prepare by being watchful of the harmful things to our spirits, bodies and minds. We prepare by becoming accustomed to doing the work of the Lord now, because when He is here, that is exactly what we will be doing. Instead of fearing the gloom and doom of His coming, we should be changing our lives to find the happiness that He will bring. If we can find the joy He offers now, we will not fear the destruction that will come.

Why should we be concerned about our preparedness rather than the exact timing of the Second Coming?

Matthew 24:42 reads, “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” If we focus on being prepared, it doesn’t matter when He comes. If he comes today, we are saved. If he comes many years from now, we are saved. Preparation will bring us the most joy. If the Savior never comes in your lifetime, living a life in preparation of His coming, means a life worthy of the promised blessings of joy in eternity. I think the question should instead be, why not? What is lost in this life by living it righteously? Nothing of any lasting value would be lost. Everything of value is to be gained when we choose to live righteously now. I am so excited for the coming of the Savior. I hope that my testimony of this will grow even stronger and more firm, so that as the trials I face in life (which we all have to face), I will not falter. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ, and I look forward to the day when I will be counted worthy to stand with His people and do His work at His side.


About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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