Posts Tagged 'Justice'

2 Samuel Chapter 12

David had done a lot of good things for the kingdom of Israel, and had led the people to becoming a strong nation in his day. In the previous chapter, we learn of his selfish choice to take the wife of Uriah for himself because he had given into the temptation of sleeping with her. This choice was not acceptable to the Lord.

1 And the Lord sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor.
2 The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds:
3 But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter.
4 And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man’s lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him.
5 And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die:
6 And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.

The Lord called upon his prophet, Nathan, to go and speak to David. He told him a parable of two men, a rich man and a poor man. The rich man had been blessed with many animals in his flocks and herds, while the poor man had only been blessed with one ewe lamb. He loved the lamb and treated it as he would treat a daughter. A traveler visited the rich man, and the man wanted to prepare a lamb for his guest. He did not want to use one of his own flock, so he took the lamb of the poor man and prepared it for the visitor. Upon hearing this story, David was angry and he told Nathan, that because the man had done this thing, he should die. Additionally, he felt the man should make restitution four times over, for taking the lamb without a thought for the poor man. The law of restitution had been laid out by the Lord, in the law of Moses, specifically giving four sheep for each lamb taken.

7 And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;
8 And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.
9 Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon.
10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.
11 Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun.
12 For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.
13 And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.
14 Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.

Nathan told David that this parable was about him. The Lord had blessed David to be king of Israel. He spared him from Saul, and had given him a great home and many wives. If that had not been enough, the Lord would have provided more for David, but it should have been enough. Instead, David had done evil in the sight of the Lord. He executed the plan to have Uriah killed by the hands of the children of Ammon, in order to have Bathsheba as his wife. The Lord cursed David, that the sword would never depart from his house, which I think means that his line would never have peace from fighting their enemies, or that he would never see the end of it in his own lifetime. In fact, the Lord cursed him, that he would have enemies in his own house and that his wives would be taken from him and given to his neighbor. While David kept his transgression secret from the people, the Lord would curse him for all of Israel to see.

David confessed his sin to Nathan, which was good, but he should not have waited to confess until he had been caught. David was not cursed to die right then, which could have been the expectation for his plot to murder Uriah had he been any common man in Israel. However, because of the effects of what he had done, the Lord cursed him and said the child of David and Bathsheba would die. The death of this child would stand as an example to the House of Israel forever. Moreover, David would not be allowed the eternal reward that the righteous hoped for, because of this choice. As mentioned in my previous post, we learn of the reward, or the outcome and the eternal consequence of this choice. It reads Doctrine and Covenants 132:39, “…in none of these things did [David] sin against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife; and, therefore he hath fallen from his exaltation, and received his portion; and he shall not inherit them out of the world, for I gave them unto another, saith the Lord.”, which in effect is a kind of eternal separation from God (spiritual death).

15 And Nathan departed unto his house. And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, and it was very sick.
16 David therefore besought God for the child; and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth.
17 And the elders of his house arose, and went to him, to raise him up from the earth: but he would not, neither did he eat bread with them.
18 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead?
19 But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead.
20 Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the Lord, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat.
21 Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread.
22 And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether God will be gracious to me, that the child may live?
23 But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.

After Nathan left, the child became very sick. David fasted and prayed, laying upon the ground. The elders in his household went to him and tried to pick him up from the floor, but he wouldn’t get up and he wouldn’t eat his meals as usual. On the seventh day of his child being sick, the child died. His servants were afraid to tell him that the child had died, because of how he might react to the news. David saw the servants whispering and asked if his son had died. They told him that he had. David got up, cleaned himself up and changed his clothes. Then he went to the house of the Lord and worshipped. After that, he went home and ate. The servants asked why he had fasted and prayed for the child while weeping, but was going about as usual after his son had died. David told them that he fasted and prayed because he didn’t know if the Lord would be gracious and allow the child to live. Since his child had died, he could not bring him back by fasting, because he was gone.

24 And David comforted Bath-sheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon: and the Lord loved him.
25 And he sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and he called his name Jedidiah, because of the Lord.

David went to Bath-sheba and comforted her. She became pregnant again and had a son named Solomon, who was loved by the Lord. I think the verse 25 means that Nathan was called to bless the child, as was a tradition in ancient Israel. Nathan called the child Jedidiah.

26 And Joab fought against Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and took the royal city.
27 And Joab sent messengers to David, and said, I have fought against Rabbah, and have taken the city of waters.
28 Now therefore gather the rest of the people together, and encamp against the city, and take it: lest I take the city, and it be called after my name.
29 And David gathered all the people together, and went to Rabbah, and fought against it, and took it.
30 And he took their king’s crown from off his head, the weight whereof was a talent of gold with the precious stones: and it was set on David’s head. And he brought forth the spoil of the city in great abundance.
31 And he brought forth the people that were therein, and put them under saws, and under harrows of iron, and under axes of iron, and made them pass through the brickkiln: and thus did he unto all the cities of the children of Ammon. So David and all the people returned unto Jerusalem.

David sent his men, under the leadership of Joab, to fight the children of Ammon in their royal city. Joab reported that they had nearly taken the city, but that David should gather the rest of his men and go against the city, so that the honor of taking the city would be his. David gathered men and took the city of the Ammonites. David took the crown of the king for himself, and brought a great amount of spoil out of their royal city. The Ammonites were taken from the city and killed, and after the cities of Ammon were emptied, the Israelites were able to return to Jerusalem.

Sin and transgression do not go unnoticed by the Lord. If necessary, God will inspire his chosen priesthood leaders to do and say things when others need correction, chastisement, or, as was the case of David, a greater consequence for the things done. I am sure that this was not something that Nathan enjoyed doing. No man wants to be the bearer of such sad news, especially the curse that came to David for his actions. His heart must have been heavy, but he knew he had to give the message of punishment to David, that God had sent him to give. I believe that this was not a punishment to the child of David and Bathsheba, because he had done no wrong and was innocent in all of this. Instead, I believe that the child received all the rewards available to those who are able to live a full life, including being able to live with God again.

It is sad to the story of David and Uriah. To see someone fall from favor with God, who had been blessed to become a great man and leader, is a heartbreaking thing. While David did make this mistake and make a horrible decision in order to cover up his sin, it is not recorded that he cursed God for what had happened. When the consequence came, he turned to God for help. When he did not receive the desired answer to his prayers, he again did not turn against God, but picked himself up and went back to doing the work that was expected of him. He continued to lead and protect the people of Israel, as he had been anointed to do. If we read Psalm 51 also, we can see that after this meeting with Nathan, David desired forgiveness from God, because he knew that he had done wrong. I think we live in a time, when more people blame God for the bad things that happen in their lives instead of looking at their own responsibility in their trials. It would be a completely different world, if more people would recognize their mistakes and faults and move on, instead of holding things against others, especially against God.

Deuteronomy Chapter 25

The law of Moses, was given by the Lord to the Israelites, in order to give them the way to be the Lord’s chosen people. Through these many laws and statutes, they would be able to learn how to love God and love others. If they lived the law, and did not turn back to the ways of some of their ancestors, they would be greatly blessed by God. Moses continued to teach the newer generation, all that had been given to him, in preparation for their entrance into the promised land. His sermon continues with the following:

1 If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked.
2 And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number.
3 Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee.

A punishment for the wicked, was explained by Moses. Judges were to decide the cases brought before them, and then do right by the innocent and condemn the wicked. Next, they were to give a punishment worthy of their wrong-doing. If a condemned man was worthy of being beaten, they were to charge him with up to 40 stripes, and no more. Anything over that, was cruel and unnecessary for any man. Our works will determine our own reward as well. God is our ultimate judge and eventually we will face him. In the most perfect and just way, He will determine if we have done righteous works or wicked works. After the Savior has mediated for us, if have repented and turned to the Lord, we will receive the punishment or blessings we deserve, according to the demands of justice. No punishment will be greater than is necessary according to the law.

4 Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.

My understanding, is that this means that in that day, they would place a muzzle on an ox, so that it would not eat as it worked the field of grain. The law here is, that they were not to place the muzzle on the ox. This is one of those laws that does not give its explanation and may seem strange to include in the law of Moses. I am sure there is a deeper meaning in its use, though I am not sure what it is. I don’t know that it really was about whether or not they stopped the animal from eating while working, but rather that they were to take care of those that worked for them and allow them their due.

5 If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her.
6 And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.
7 And if the man like not to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband’s brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother.
8 Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if he stand to it, and say, I like not to take her;
9 Then shall his brother’s wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother’s house.
10 And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.

In the law of marriage, a widow who was without children, was to be taken as a wife by any living brothers of her late husband. If she was to have a son by her second husband, that son was to represent her first husband by name. If the widow was refused by the brother, she could take her plea to the elders of her city. The elders were to talk to the man. If he confirmed her claim, and would not take her as his wife, then the widow was to remove his shoe, and spit in his face. Then he would be known throughout the nation as one who had denied this duty to his family.

11 When men strive together one with another, and the wife of the one draweth near for to deliver her husband out of the hand of him that smiteth him, and putteth forth her hand, and taketh him by the secrets:
12 Then thou shalt cut off her hand, thine eye shall not pity her.

If a woman defended her husband during a fight he had with another man, she was not to grab him in any indecent way. If she did, she would be punished by loosing her hand.

13 Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small.
14 Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small.
15 But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
16 For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the Lord thy God.

All things were to be done justly, including how they handled measurements and weights. I think that this referred to how they handled the giving and receiving of money and payments.

17 Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt;
18 How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God.
19 Therefore it shall be, when the Lord thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.

The Israelites were called to remember how the Amlekites had been wicked and attacked them in their journey to the land of inheritance. This was the time, when Moses held up the rod and with the power of God, the Israelites were successful against them. God had promised Moses then, that the nation of Amalek would be destroyed. In Exodus 17:14 we read, “And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” Therefore, because the Amlekites had done wrong to the Israelites, they were not going to be peace between their nations. When the Israelites had settled in the land, and were no longer fighting against those that had inhabited it before them, they were to destroy the remaining Amalekites and remember how and why they had been called to do it.

***

We are shown example after example, throughout the scriptures, of how important it is to take care of widows. The manual I am studying, Scripture Study for the Latter-Day Saint Families: The Old Testament, places a focus on this, based on the Lord’s law found in this chapter. This custom is not one that is heard of today in the society I live in, but there is evidence of just how important this is to the Lord. It is never an easy thing, for a woman to loose her husband. In ancient times, a widow would have been left without the means to provide for her own needs, and I believe it was much less likely for them to remarry, than it would be today. It has always been a god-given duty for men to provide for the women in their lives, especially those who loose their husbands. This applies also, to supporting their mothers, grandmothers, and even extended family members. When the responsibility exists, it should not be taken lightly by anyone. Our first priority, should be to take care of our families to the best of our ability. If we truly intend for families, even extended families, to be eternal in nature, we need to do all that is needed to nurture them in this life.

The church, as it was established after the Savior’s resurrection, included the idea of taking care of the widows of their human family. In James 1:27 it reads, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” This teaches us that we cannot be true disciples of Christ, if we do not do what we can to help the widows we know. Likewise, in modern times, the Lord has commanded that all faithful members of His church, do what they can to provide for those who are widows or who have lost their fathers. In Doctrine and Covenants 136:8 we read, “Let each company bear an equal proportion, according to the dividend of their property, in taking the poor, the widows, the fatherless, and the families of those who have gone into the army, that the cries of the widow and the fatherless come not up into the ears of the Lord against this people.”

It seems that the higher law, does not extend only to family members, or even strictly to those whose husbands or fathers have died. This law to care for these women and children, even applies to those who are without their husbands and fathers for a season of time, such as happens when men serve in the armed forces. Moreover, it is a law to provide for those who are in need, to the best of our ability. I know that this is a good reason, for all those who are able to give generous offerings. In the case of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have this opportunity through our fast offerings and donations. There are many opportunities for us to visit and provide the support of our company as well. I think of the great example of President Thomas S. Monson, who has taken care of so many widows in his life. He has blessed their lives, and I know they have blessed his as well. I am grateful for the opportunity to do what we can, to help others in need.

Notes on Patience – Justice of the Lord

Patience is something that is tested in my life every day, as I am sure it is for most of us. I thought that perhaps it would be a good idea for me to begin a study that was a bit more in depth so that I could know how to gain a self-mastery that I do not have right now. I hope that my readers will enjoy following this series of posts on patience and that it may help someone else out there, as much as it has helped me. To see more posts, check out Notes on Patience

He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. (Revelation 13:10)

Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:18)

The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. (Nahum 1:3)

But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day. (Alma 14:11)

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. (Romans 12:19)

And thou shalt do it with all humility, trusting in me, reviling not against revilers. (Doctrine and Covenants 19:30)

  • Part of being patient in the Lord, is allowing His justice and mercy to work in His time. I am not one for seeking retribution for the things that others may do to me, but I have close friends and family who are. I can see how spending so much time and energy coming up with ways to get justice for wrongs done leads to so much waste in a perfectly good life. The faith I have, leads to me believe that others will receive the consequences for their actions eventually. Most of them will probably not be something that I will ever see, and that should be okay with me. Hopefully, others recognize the error of their ways and repent, so that they can be better. I know that my life is better spent forgiving and moving on, so that I don’t carry that weight around and destroy my own soul in the process. Forgiving others leads to having a greater love for them, even as I love myself. I need to recognize that sometimes I need to patient in the trials that come from the actions of others, because God is giving them every opportunity to repent so that his judgement will be completely just.
  • Conference Questions – Our Potential Part 7

    (To view the previous posts for this question, start here: Our Potential Part 1)

    Another attribute of God, is that He is eternal. Moroni 7:22 reads, “For behold, God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting, behold, he sent angels to minister unto the children of men, to make manifest concerning the coming of Christ; and in Christ there should come every good thing.” There is no beginning or end to God. It is hard for us to understand the eternal nature of God, because we look at the world in relation to time on our earth. I think an important thing to realize in relation to God’s eternal nature, is that He is unchanging and faithful. 1 Nephi 10:19 says, “For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.” Likewise, in Doctrine and Covenants 35:1 we read, “Listen to the voice of the Lord your God, even Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, whose course is one eternal round, the same today as yesterday, and forever.” And again in Doctrine and Covenants 20:17 it says, “By these things we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them;”. We can depend on God to stay the same. 2 Timothy 2:19 teaches, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” There is a dependability that we can have with God, which we cannot have with any person on earth. The way to work on this attribute and strive towards this Godly potential, is to be a dependable person now. We need to be someone that others can depend on. More importantly, we need to be the kind of person that God can depend on. We need to work on our faith and stand firm in the gospel. This is not say that we don’t want to progress. Progression is a type of change. The good kind of change, is having a sure foundation and building upon that to become better. The kind of change that will have us leaving our path to our potential, is allowing our faith to waiver, turning back to the person we were before our conversion process began, returning to old habits, and so on. Becoming more like God, means that we have the kind of faith that will remain strong, even when the difficulties of life crash down upon us.

    Through His eternal love for His children, God is a giver of gifts. 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.” A friend said once, that she imagines that God has a vast basket of blessings for each of and when we choose to live according to the laws He has given, the basket is turned over upon us, but that the blessings remain there is we choose not to have them through the way we choose to live. I believe that God desires to give us all that He has to offer us, which is everything really. As stated before, God gave the greatest gift to us in the giving of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. (See John 3:16) 1 John 5:11 reads, “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” It is through this gift that we can receive eternal life. That combination, Eternal life through Jesus Christ, is the greatest gift of all the gifts of God. In Doctrine and Covenants 14:7 it teaches us, “And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.” The gifts that God give to us, usually depend upon the life we choose to live. There are some gifts that are given to all, for being children of a loving Father. Every person is given the gift of some of the light of Christ within us. Every person is also given talents. We learn of this in 1 Corinthians 7:7 which reads, “For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.” When we seek for greater gifts in the spirit of seeking to be more like God, we will be given more talents and other gifts. In order to work towards the potential of Godliness, we need to be more willing to give of what we have to others. When our children behave as we have asked them, we should give them gifts. This doesn’t mean giving physical gifts all the time, but more often than not, it is giving a greater witness of our love and appreciation for them. Give a hug. Give a note of thanks. Give a smile. Give time. We really should be willing to give of our abundance to all mankind. Giving gifts is one of the great ways that we can show others we love them and care for them.

    Another attribute of God, which we can strive towards, is that He is just. In Deuteronomy 32:4 we read, “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” God is the ultimate judge of all mankind. In that judgement, He is perfectly just. In Mosiah 29:12 we are taught, “Now it is better that a man should be judged of God than of man, for the judgments of God are always just, but the judgments of man are not always just.” This is so true. Men are so easily swayed by their own backgrounds, beliefs and biases. Knowing that God is the one who will judge me in the end, gives me a much greater hope in receiving what I truly deserve. We can work towards becoming perfectly just as God is, by keeping our own judgements to righteous judgements. There are appropriate times for us to judge something or someone, but most of the time, we judge where we do not have a right to do so, and with motives that are anything but righteous. The Savior taught us a lesson regarding judging in his sermon at the temple, found in 3 Nephi 14.

    1 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he turned again to the multitude, and did open his mouth unto them again, saying: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Judge not, that ye be not judged.
    2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
    3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
    4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother: Let me pull the mote out of thine eye—and behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
    5 Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye. (See also Matthew 7: the sermon on the mount)

    We cannot judge others for things, when we are not perfect ourselves. So we learn to be more like God, when we restrain from judging others this way. Instead, we need to focus on forgiving others and seeing the good in them. We can work towards our potential by trying to see others through the loving perspective of their Father in Heaven, and as the people that they can become through His power.

    (Coming tomorrow: Conference Questions – Our Potential Part 8)

    To view other questions in this series, go here: Conference Questions

    D&C Section 134

    In August of 1985, the saints held a general assembly of the church to discuss the Doctrine and Covenants and its contents. This section is described as a “declaration of belief regarding governments and laws” and it was accepted by a unanimous vote of the saints. It was given a preamble as well which said, “That our belief with regard to earthly governments and laws in general may not be misinterpreted nor misunderstood, we have thought proper to present, at the close of this volume, our opinion concerning the same” (History of the Church, 2:247). It is not direct revelation from the Lord, but as I understand it, there is nothing in this declaration that is against the gospel principles and it is fully in line with what we should believe as saints of God. As active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), saints have a duty to be aware and active in their communities as is possible. I have been fortunate to live in the United States, where we have many freedoms and liberties because of our government. I am very grateful for this.

    The saints had been wrongly accused of many things in these first years of the restoration of the gospel. Among these false accusations, was one that said they were unsupportive of law and order. This declaration showed the world what the saints believed and how they expected government to work. This section begins:

    1 We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.
    2 We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.
    3 We believe that all governments necessarily require civil officers and magistrates to enforce the laws of the same; and that such as will administer the law in equity and justice should be sought for and upheld by the voice of the people if a republic, or the will of the sovereign.
    4 We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.

    I whole-heartedly believe that government is part of the plan of God. I believe that when Christ comes again, our government will be His government, which is perfectly righteous. I don’t think that any government that is instituted today, is the perfect government, because they are all man-made, but I know that some are better than others because of influences of the spirit on good people. Government helps us to establish and maintain the laws, so that we all can live in safety and peace, therefore it is necessary that we have some type of government. These verses declare that no peaceful government can exist unless the people are free to choose for themselves, have a right to property, and are able to protect life. When these things are taken away, the people become placed in some kind of bondage to another, which is never according to the plan of God.

    In my study I found a quote by David O. McKay when he who eventually became President of the church. He said, “That government is best which has as its aim the administration of justice, social well-being and the promotion of prosperity among its members” (in Conference Report, April. 1930, p. 80). I like this quote because it is not social well-being or the promotion of prosperity, but it is “and” or both. The best government will seek to help its people in need and encourage prosperity. A nation can have both of these things, if done correctly, and we see evidence of this time and time again in the Book of Mormon. One example is of the Nephites, not long after Christ had visited them. In 4 Nephi 1 we read,

    2 And it came to pass in the thirty and sixth year, the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.
    3 And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.
    . . . 7 And the Lord did prosper them exceedingly in the land; yea, insomuch that they did build cities again where there had been cities burned.
    . . . 18 And how blessed were they! For the Lord did bless them in all their doings; yea, even they were blessed and prospered until an hundred and ten years had passed away; and the first generation from Christ had passed away, and there was no contention in all the land.
    . . . 23 And now I, Mormon, would that ye should know that the people had multiplied, insomuch that they were spread upon all the face of the land, and that they had become exceedingly rich, because of their prosperity in Christ.

    I believe that we can have people who are prosperous and who are common (not rich and poor), without taking away any freedoms. I believe that we can persuade men to choose to give of their abundance to the poor, without forcing anyone and taking that choice away. When people choose to give to the poor, everyone prospers, but when people are forced by things being taken from them, no one does.

    The saints declared that governments need workers who will handle the laws with equity and justice, and that these same people should be chosen by the will of the people. It is the duty of every righteous man or woman, to seek out good and just leaders and help them to lead their country in the right ways. As far as America goes, I don’t think that enough people realize that if the voice of the people who are trying to live righteous lives, would be heard louder, our leaders would also be influenced to lead righteously. We have the ability to persuade those who are in government positions, if we stand up for what we believe.

    In verse 4, the point is that religion is not a man-made institution, but an eternal institution from our eternal creator. As latter-day saints, we believe in the free exercise of religion, not just of our own, but of all religions that do not stop others from their rightful freedoms. We believe that nothing of man should be allowed to interfere with the institution of religion, or stop men from being able to worship freely as they choose. I love the last line of this verse, “the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.” There are things that government is responsible for and should be, but forcing people to believe something or stopping them from freedom of thought and desires of the soul is completely wrong. I believe that all men should be allowed to worship freely, as long as how or what they worship does not stop anyone else from that same freedom.

    5 We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly; and that all governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest; at the same time, however, holding sacred the freedom of conscience.
    6 We believe that every man should be honored in his station, rulers and magistrates as such, being placed for the protection of the innocent and the punishment of the guilty; and that to the laws all men owe respect and deference, as without them peace and harmony would be supplanted by anarchy and terror; human laws being instituted for the express purpose of regulating our interests as individuals and nations, between man and man; and divine laws given of heaven, prescribing rules on spiritual concerns, for faith and worship, both to be answered by man to his Maker.
    7 We believe that rulers, states, and governments have a right, and are bound to enact laws for the protection of all citizens in the free exercise of their religious belief; but we do not believe that they have a right in justice to deprive citizens of this privilege, or proscribe them in their opinions, so long as a regard and reverence are shown to the laws and such religious opinions do not justify sedition nor conspiracy.
    8 We believe that the commission of crime should be punished according to the nature of the offense; that murder, treason, robbery, theft, and the breach of the general peace, in all respects, should be punished according to their criminality and their tendency to evil among men, by the laws of that government in which the offense is committed; and for the public peace and tranquility all men should step forward and use their ability in bringing offenders against good laws to punishment.

    We have a duty to follow the laws of the land in which we live, but we must have the right to choose and think for ourselves. It is the responsibility of a government to have laws and to have consequences for those who choose not to follow the laws. As it says in the twelfth article of faith, latter-day saints believe in “obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law”. There have been times when the laws of certain lands have taken away the freedom to follow the laws of God, and in these times, I believe it becomes a matter of sincere prayer to God for his help to be able to live His law. Sometimes it takes making a stand for a belief, such as Daniel who continued to pray even though he was commanded by his ruler that he must not pray to God. He was still allowed to choose and suffered the consequences of the law, but God protected him for following His law. I hope that I do not have to experience that kind of contradiction between the laws of this land and the laws of God, but I know that it is a possibility as we draw closer to the second coming. God will bless us if we do our best to obey his laws and live righteously.

    It can sometimes feel difficult to respect our leaders who make choices we do not like, but as saints we need to be better than this. We should respect the office which these individuals hold, even when we disagree with their individual policies or decisions. For example, our president should be respected as the leader of our country. He should not be attacked as a person, because this is not a Christ-like thing to do. We do not have to agree with his decisions to respect him as our leader. Likewise, we do not have to agree with the decision of every law that is made, but we should respect and sustain it as a law. If we disagree with a leader or a law, it is our duty to do what we can to change what we do not agree with, not to disrespect or disobey.

    Everyone one of us has responsibilities over something in our lifetime. For some it is nations and for others it is a home. We are all held accountable for how we lead and how we act in that responsibility. I have hope in the belief that those leaders who are unjust and unkind, will be held accountable for that in the eternities, because I believe in the justice of God. But as much as I hope for that, I must remember that I need to be the best leader in my home, so that I do not hold the same fate for making bad choices as well.

    There is nothing wrong with punishment that is deserving for the crimes committed. Suffering for crimes is like the suffering for our sins that is an eternal principle. As a mother, it can be difficult at times to figure out what punishment is appropriate for the wrongs that are done in my home, but I know that there would be absolute craziness and a lack of respect for any rules if there were not any consequences. As saints, it is our duty to own up to our own mistakes, to take the appropriate consequences as they come and to repent fully for them. We do not consider ourselves above any laws. We are bound to uphold them as citizens of our countries. If we are striving to be honest citizens, then we will not do anything to stop another from proper punishment, and we will not cover up any crimes. We can and should still show love for anyone who has done something wrong, while allowing the consequences to be put into action. Punishment is in place for the benefit of all men and women.

    9 We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.
    10 We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members for disorderly conduct, according to the rules and regulations of such societies; provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing; but we do not believe that any religious society has authority to try men on the right of property or life, to take from them this world’s goods, or to put them in jeopardy of either life or limb, or to inflict any physical punishment upon them. They can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship.

    There is wisdom in keeping the laws and rules of the land in the control of those who lead the land, and separately keeping the laws and rules of any religion in the control of those who lead that religious group. Although, I have a desire for all men to believe as I do and to worship as I do, that does not mean that the leaders of a church should have control over a land. We cannot learn and grow if we are not given the choice to worship freely. I am happy when there are good, religious individuals as leaders in the government, because a righteous influence for good is ideal. But the church should leave the control of government to those who have been chosen to lead it. Likewise, any government should allow the churches to lead their own churches, as long as there is nothing that they do contrary to the laws of the land.

    11 We believe that men should appeal to the civil law for redress of all wrongs and grievances, where personal abuse is inflicted or the right of property or character infringed, where such laws exist as will protect the same; but we believe that all men are justified in defending themselves, their friends, and property, and the government, from the unlawful assaults and encroachments of all persons in times of exigency, where immediate appeal cannot be made to the laws, and relief afforded.
    12 We believe it just to preach the gospel to the nations of the earth, and warn the righteous to save themselves from the corruption of the world; but we do not believe it right to interfere with bond-servants, neither preach the gospel to, nor baptize them contrary to the will and wish of their masters, nor to meddle with or influence them in the least to cause them to be dissatisfied with their situations in this life, thereby jeopardizing the lives of men; such interference we believe to be unlawful and unjust, and dangerous to the peace of every government allowing human beings to be held in servitude.

    Any person has the god-given right to defend themselves, their loved ones, and their own property. There are appropriate ways to deal with any abuse or attack that comes against us, and we should be wise in doing what is appropriate. Likewise, governments should have a responsibility to provide help in the appropriate situations. If, however, a government chooses not to help or is unable to help, when assistance is fully deserved, there is a right to our own defense against attacks.

    As saints, we are believers in taking the gospel to the world. However, it is a gospel of peace and if preaching the gospel would put the peace or safety of others in jeopardy, it is not the right time for it. We do not believe that people should not be allowed to hear the gospel, but we will respect the laws of the lands. If we live righteously, and if as a church we are being strengthened and fortified, the Lord will open doors for the gospel in places where it has not been allowed before. I believe this is true.

    I am so grateful for the safety that comes from having a government in place. I am glad that I live in a country that allows as much freedom as I have. I believe in laws and consequences and I know that we will be blessed by God for being good citizens where ever we live. I believe in freedom, and I am especially grateful to live where I can choose to worship freely and in a time when I do not need to fear for my life because of it. I am very grateful for the saints, who believed as I do now, and who endured through so many trials so that I could live the life of freedom that I have now.

    The Atonement

    View the lesson here.

    The Atonement Is Necessary for Our Salvation

    Why is the Atonement necessary for our salvation?

    The atonement makes it possible for us to repent of our sins. We all sin regularly, because we are human and we make mistakes. Heavenly Father is perfect and our goal is to return to live with him again some day. In Moses 6:57 we read, “Wherefore teach it unto your children, that all men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence . . .”.

    Being able to repent of our mistakes, is part of the plan of salvation that was laid out for us before we came here. The key to the plan of salvation was that the Savior, Jesus Christ, would suffer for these sins, so that he could show us mercy having paid the price for us. If the atonement had not occurred, there would be no hope for anyone. We would all have been lost after this life.

    Jesus Christ Was the Only One Who Could Atone for Our Sins

    Why was Jesus Christ the only one who could atone for our sins?

    Jesus Christ was the son of Mary, a mortal woman, and God, who is immortal. He was a God, while he lived on this earth, because he was born of the Father. He inherited many things from His Father. The thing he inherited from his mother, was mortality. The Savior was the only person who had to choose for himself to die. During the Atonement, He took upon himself every sin, as well as every pain, affliction, sorrow, and more. There is no mortal being who could have suffered all this and remained living.

    He was also the only person who was without sin and in paying the price for all of us, it was a perfect sacrifice. All sacrifices that have ever been accepted by God, have been without blemish, or perfect. No other person has ever been without blemish. He is the only one that could have been an acceptable sacrifice to God. This is why the Savior was chosen to do this for before we came to this earth.

    In Alma 34:10 we read, “For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice.” Jesus Christ is the son of God and that is why he was able to make the infinite and eternal sacrifice that was required to satisfy the law.

    Christ Suffered and Died to Atone for Our Sins

    When Jesus Christ suffered through the atonement for each of us, he experienced pain and sorrow that no other person could truly imagine. The scriptures tell us how he suffered, but in modern-day revelations it is clearly stated. In D&C 19:17-19 we read, “But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I (v. 17); Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink (v. 18 )—Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men (v. 19).” He literally bled from every pore of His body.

    Part of the atonement was His death. The Savior had to experience physical death in order for the atonement of all things to be completed. His death was one of the cruelest and most painful ways a person could die. His death finished His mortal work that was necessary to save us all.

    The Atonement and Resurrection Bring Resurrection to All

    Just as His death was necessary, His resurrection was as well. Jesus Christ was the first being to be resurrected. He was the only one, being immortal, who could start the resurrection. Because He did this, all people, no matter how they lived in this life, will be resurrected.

    In 2 Nephi 9:12 we read, “And this death of which I have spoken, which is the spiritual death, shall deliver up its dead; which spiritual death is hell; wherefore, death and hell must deliver up their dead, and hell must deliver up its captive spirits, and the grave must deliver up its captive bodies, and the bodies and the spirits of men will be restored one to the other; and it is by the power of the resurrection of the Holy One of Israel.” The resurrection of the Savior has literally saved us all from remaining captive to satan after this life, because our bodies and spirits will be brought back together through the resurrection.

    How has [my] knowledge of the Resurrection helped [me]?

    Having a knowledge of the resurrection, gives me a hope for what is to come after this life. If we had no promise of immortality, I am not sure what there would be to look forward to. I think that I would fear death greatly, because it would seem as though the end of this life would be the end of everything. I know that there is more to come after we die, and this is only possible because of the Savior.

    The Atonement Makes It Possible for Those Who Have Faith in Christ to Be Saved from Their Sins

    The Atonement only works for those who accept it and use it. We will all be resurrected, but we choose for ourselves if we want to allow the atonement to work for us through repentance. The price has already been paid, but if we do not repent, then we suffer for ourselves.

    In Helaman 14:17-18 we read, “But behold, the resurrection of Christ redeemeth mankind, yea, even all mankind, and bringeth them back into the presence of the Lord (v. 17). Yea, and it bringeth to pass the condition of repentance, that whosoever repenteth the same is not hewn down and cast into the fire; but whosoever repenteth not is hewn down and cast into the fire; and there cometh upon them again a spiritual death, yea, a second death, for they are cut off again as to things pertaining to righteousness (v. 18 ).” All men have the opportunity to repent that know of repentance. We make the choice and the consequence will either be returning to live with God, or experiencing spiritual death and separating ourselves from everything that is good and righteous.

    Whom do the people in the parable represent in our lives?

    The lesson tells a parable that President Boyd K. Packer once told. It is about a man who went into great debt to get something he really wanted. Even with warnings about debt and who he would be borrowing from, the desire was too great and he signed the contract anyway. He avoided paying the debt off because the due date was still far away. When the debt was due, the man could not pay in full as was expected. The consequence was that the man would have everything taken away and he would go to prison. Justice had to be fulfilled, even though the man begged for mercy. The man had a friend, who loved him and wanted to help him. He paid the debt for the man and the man was shown mercy and set free. They worked out how the man would repay his friend.

    This parable is an example of our relationship to the Savior. We are the man who was in debt. Every time we sin, we go after something we want, even though we know we will be in debt to God for disobeying his laws. We keep living our lives the way we want, thinking that we don’t need to worry about those sins just yet, we are still enjoying life the way we like it. Then the end of our lives come and we are judged and justly we cannot enter into the kingdom of God because of the sin. God is always just and cannot bend the rules for any of us. We are held in spirit prison because of the debt that we cannot pay. The Savior, who is our friend and loves us, has offered to and paid for our sins. He will repay our debt if we choose to repent of our sins. If we choose repentance and use of the atonement, we will be made perfect and clean so that we can return to live with God again.

    I am so very grateful to my Savior for showing me mercy and suffering for me. The only way that I can show Him this gratitude is to actively use the atonement in my life. I do this by true repentance and doing my best to avoid sin and to obey the commandments. I want to better understand how the atonement and repentance work in my life, so that I will be able to return to live with my Father in Heaven some day.

    D&C Section 20 (Part 2)

    (Continued from previous post: Part 1)

    This section was given as the “Articles and Covenants of the Church”, at the time the church was first organized.

    The Lord is speaking about the Book of Mormon. He says that it is inspired and has been witnessed by others so that they could stand as witnesses of its truth (v. 10-13). “And those who receive it in faith, and work righteousness, shall receive a crown of eternal life (v. 14); But those who harden their hearts in unbelief, and reject it, it shall turn to their own condemnation (v. 15)—For the Lord God has spoken it; and we, the elders of the church, have heard and bear witness to the words of the glorious Majesty on high, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen (v. 16).” The elders of the Church gave their witness to the truth of the Book of Mormon and the truth of these words.

    The Natural or Fallen Man

    “By these things we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them (v. 17); And that he created man, male and female, after his own image and in his own likeness, created he them (v. 18 ); And gave unto them commandments that they should love and serve him, the only living and true God, and that he should be the only being whom they should worship (v. 19). But by the transgression of these holy laws man became sensual and devilish, and became fallen man (v. 20).”

    We are created in God’s image, therefore we inherit his attributes. However, because we are in a fallen state and are mortal, our transgressions cause us to become the natural man. We do not inherit wickedness from God. And we can perfect ourselves through the atonement and repentance for those things we do wrong. In Mosiah 3:19 we read, “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.” Repentance is the key to putting off the natural man that we all become because we all sin.

    The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost Are One God

    This section is laying out the basic principles of this gospel. “Wherefore, the Almighty God gave his Only Begotten Son, as it is written in those scriptures which have been given of him (v. 21). He suffered temptations but gave no heed unto them (v. 22). He was crucified, died, and rose again the third day (v. 23); And ascended into heaven, to sit down on the right hand of the Father, to reign with almighty power according to the will of the Father (v. 24); That as many as would believe and be baptized in his holy name, and endure in faith to the end, should be saved (v. 25)—Not only those who believed after he came in the meridian of time, in the flesh, but all those from the beginning, even as many as were before he came, who believed in the words of the holy prophets, who spake as they were inspired by the gift of the Holy Ghost, who truly testified of him in all things, should have eternal life (v. 26), As well as those who should come after, who should believe in the gifts and callings of God by the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of the Father and of the Son (v. 27);”

    “Which Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God, infinite and eternal, without end. Amen (v. 28 ).” We know that there are three separate beings; God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which make up the one Godhead. One God meaning one Godhead. In Alma 11:44 we read, “Now, this restoration shall come to all . . . and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil.” This is the only true and Eternal God. There are however, other Gods that exist, that we may be tempted to worship, but they are not the true and living God.

    How Does One Receive “Justification”?

    “And we know that all men must repent and believe on the name of Jesus Christ, and worship the Father in his name, and endure in faith on his name to the end, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God (v. 29). And we know that justification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true (v. 30);” One basic principle of this gospel, is that God is just. We have commandments and covenants that we must follow and make, which have consequences and rewards (both good and bad). All the laws of the gospel must be fulfilled. However, the Savior has fulfilled all the laws through his atonement, so if we repent and believe in the Savior, we can have His grace. His grace will make us whole and we will receive justification for our transgressions.

    What Is “Sanctification”?

    “And we know also, that sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength (v. 31).” Sanctification is purification. It is being rid of all sin and having the change of heart that moves us to be entirely in tune with the will of the Lord. We will never be completely sanctified in this life, but we can take the steps toward sanctification and when the time comes, the Lord will complete the process for us.

    What Does Is Mean to “Fall from Grace”?

    “But there is a possibility that man may fall from grace and depart from the living God (v. 32);” None of us is free from temptations and sin. Even the most righteous will be tempted and sin from time to time. If we do this without later repenting, we fall from grace. To fall from grace is to choose not to partake in the amazing power of the atonement, but live and possibly die in sin.

    Alma, Chapter 42

    Why was Corianton worried?

    There have been times when my husband has been gone for a long time after he was expected to come home.  The worry could have been avoided if instead of assuming when he was going to come home, we had talked about his plans and made sure that if he was going to be late that he would call and let me know, so I wouldn’t have worried.  If we had prepared, I would not have worried.  In D&C 38:30 we read, “I tell you these things because of your prayers; wherefore, treasure up wisdom in your bosoms, lest the wickedness of men reveal these things unto you by their wickedness, in a manner which shall speak in your ears with a voice louder than that which shall shake the earth; but if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.”  Usually worry can be avoided when we prepare.

    “And now, my son, I perceive there is somewhat more which doth worry your mind, which ye cannot understand—which is concerning the justice of God in the punishment of the sinner; for ye do try to suppose that it is injustice that the sinner should be consigned to a state of misery (v. 1).”  Alma can tell that Corianton worries about the injustice he feels is given to the sinner by being restored to misery.  This worried him, because he knew that he had been sinning by going after the harlot.  I think that sometimes we make excuses for our sins instead of taking responsibility for them because we either are not wanting to give them up, or because we do not want to admit our faults to others.  So many people today do not want to see sin for what it truly is.  They say that the consequences for sin are not fair, just as Corianton was thinking.  People are happy with consequences when they go their way, but as soon as they don’t, they get upset and are unwilling to accept that they have done wrong.  This is part of the natural man in us.  We must not allow Satan to convince us that the consequences are unfair, because if we see things that way, there is no reason to stop doing the things we shouldn’t do.

    Are you on probation?

    Probation is when people are released from jail and are watched closely to make sure they have learned not to do bad things anymore.

    “Now behold, my son, I will explain this thing unto thee. For behold, after the Lord God sent our first parents forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground, from whence they were taken—yea, he drew out the man, and he placed at the east end of the garden of Eden, cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the tree of life (v. 2)—Now, we see that the man had become as God, knowing good and evil; and lest he should put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live forever, the Lord God placed cherubim and the flaming sword, that he should not partake of the fruit (v. 3)—And thus we see, that there was a time granted unto man to repent, yea, a probationary time, a time to repent and serve God (v. 4).”  Adam was given time to repent, instead of experiences the eternal consequences of death (physical or spiritual).  In Abraham 3:25 we read, “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;”.  This probation was a time to prove that man could follow God’s laws, now they had been removed from the Garden.

    He was kept away from the possibility of becoming forever tied to the consequences by being kept from the Tree at this point.  “For behold, if Adam had put forth his hand immediately, and partaken of the tree of life, he would have lived forever, according to the word of God, having no space for repentance; yea, and also the word of God would have been void, and the great plan of salvation would have been frustrated (v. 5).  But behold, it was appointed unto man to die—therefore, as they were cut off from the tree of life they should be cut off from the face of the earth—and man became lost forever, yea, they became fallen man (v. 6).  And now, ye see by this that our first parents were cut off both temporally and spiritually from the presence of the Lord; and thus we see they became subjects to follow after their own will (v. 7).”  Adam and Eve were given the opportunity to repent and use their agency, while being given the consequence of mortality.  If they had not been given this opportunity, death and sin would have caused all man to be lost forever.  This idea of being lost, would be like being in jail eternally, separated from God and those that we love.

    “Now behold, it was not expedient that man should be reclaimed from this temporal death, for that would destroy the great plan of happiness (v. 8 ).  Therefore, as the soul could never die, and the fall had brought upon all mankind a spiritual death as well as a temporal, that is, they were cut off from the presence of the Lord, it was expedient that mankind should be reclaimed from this spiritual death (v. 9).  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 (v. 10).”  Adam and Eve, and therefore their posterity (meaning us) were given the opportunity to use this time of probation as a time to prepare to return to our Father in Heaven.

    “And now remember, my son, if it were not for the plan of redemption, (laying it aside) as soon as they were dead their souls were miserable, being cut off from the presence of the Lord (v. 11).  And now, there was no means to reclaim men from this fallen state, which man had brought upon himself because of his own disobedience (v. 12); Therefore, according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men in this probationary state, yea, this preparatory state; for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice. Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God (v. 13).”   The only way to avoid the consequences of sin, we must repent and allow the mercy of Jesus Christ to satisfy the justice of God, through the Atonement.

    Do we want justice or not?

    Justice is getting exactly what you deserve.  In this case it is getting it for what is done wrong.  Often time a scale is used to represent justice.  This is because justice is what keeps things in balance.  “And thus we see that all mankind were fallen, and they were in the grasp of justice; yea, the justice of God, which consigned them forever to be cut off from his presence (v. 14).”  If God was perfectly just we me on judgement day, I would pay dearly for my sins.  I would be in complete torment for things I have done in my past even though now I am living a much better life.  I would still be in torment for little things that I do wrong even now, when I let my emotions be in charge.  No one is perfect and the scriptures tell us that no unclean thing can dwell with God, so if justice was all there was, no one would return to live with Him.

    “And now, the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also (v. 15).”  Mercy, through the atonement, will put our scale back in balance, so that we can return to live with God someday.  It is the only thing that has the power to do this.

    Can mercy rob justice?

    “Now, repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment, which also was eternal as the life of the soul should be, affixed opposite to the plan of happiness, which was as eternal also as the life of the soul (v. 16).  Now, how could a man repent except he should sin? How could he sin if there was no law? How could there be a law save there was a punishment (v. 17)?”  If a law made by God is broken, there must be an eternal punishment.

    “Now, there was a punishment affixed, and a just law given, which brought remorse of conscience unto man (v. 18 ).  Now, if there was no law given—if a man murdered he should die—would he be afraid he would die if he should murder (v. 19)?  And also, if there was no law given against sin men would not be afraid to sin (v. 20).  And if there was no law given, if men sinned what could justice do, or mercy either, for they would have no claim upon the creature (v. 21)”  God has given us laws so that we would try not to sin, which is what will keep us from Him.  If we did not have laws, there would be no justice or mercy.

    “But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance, mercy claimeth; otherwise, justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God (v. 22).  But God ceaseth not to be God, and mercy claimeth the penitent, and mercy cometh because of the atonement; and the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and the resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored into his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice (v. 23).  For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved (v. 24).  What, do ye suppose that mercy can rob justice? I say unto you, Nay; not one whit. If so, God would cease to be God (v. 25).  And thus God bringeth about his great and eternal purposes, which were prepared from the foundation of the world. And thus cometh about the salvation and the redemption of men, and also their destruction and misery (v. 26).”  In order for God to be a true and just God, he must fulfill his end of the law.  He cannot ignore our sins and give us mercy.  Only someone else could give us mercy to fulfill the justice of God’s laws.  Only the Savior could give us the atonement to do that.  But, the atonement only works for us if we truly repent for what we have done.  Our consequences are shortly endured in this life, when we repent, because the Savior has paid for our sins with the eternal payment of the Atonement.

    Did Corianton repent and change his life?

    “Therefore, O my son, whosoever will come may come and partake of the waters of life freely; and whosoever will not come the same is not compelled to come; but in the last day it shall be restored unto him according to his deeds (v. 27).  If he has desired to do evil, and has not repented in his days, behold, evil shall be done unto him, according to the restoration of God (v. 28 ).  And now, my son, I desire that ye should let these things trouble you no more, and only let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance (v. 29).  O my son, I desire that ye should deny the justice of God no more. Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins, by denying the justice of God; but do you let the justice of God, and his mercy, and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart; and let it bring you down to the dust in humility (v. 30).  And now, O my son, ye are called of God to preach the word unto this people. And now, my son, go thy way, declare the word with truth and soberness, that thou mayest bring souls unto repentance, that the great plan of mercy may have claim upon them. And may God grant unto you even according to my words. Amen (v. 31).”

    In Alma 48:18 we read, “Behold, he was a man like unto Ammon, the son of Mosiah, yea, and even the other sons of Mosiah, yea, and also Alma and his sons, for they were all men of God.”  Then in Alma 49:30 we read, “Yea, and there was continual peace among them, and exceedingly great prosperity in the church because of their heed and diligence which they gave unto the word of God, which was declared unto them by Helaman, and Shiblon, and Corianton, and Ammon and his brethren, yea, and by all those who had been ordained by the holy order of God, being baptized unto repentance, and sent forth to preach among the people.”  The words of his father, brought Corianton back to the righteous path and he helped to convert many souls and bring them unto God.  I hope that I will always have the power of the spirit in my words and testimony, to help all my children stay on the righteous path throughout their lives.  In order to do this, I must be living a righteous life and continually repent for the things that I may do wrong.


    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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