Posts Tagged 'Plan of Salvation'

Do We Understand Our Divine Destiny?

As a woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), I am a member of one of the largest women’s organization in the world. This group is called the Relief Society. Several years ago, a declaration was written for the Relief Society and the posts in this series are an attempt to apply this declaration to my life more. In this attempt I will be breaking down the parts of it into questions that I would like to try to answer through study. To view other posts related to this declaration, go here: Relief Society Declaration.

We are beloved spirit daughters of God, and our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction. As a worldwide sisterhood, we are united in our devotion to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Exemplar. We are women of faith, virtue, vision, and charity who:
Increase our testimonies of Jesus Christ through prayer and scripture study.
Seek spiritual strength by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
Dedicate ourselves to strengthening marriages, families, and homes.
Find nobility in motherhood and joy in womanhood.
Delight in service and good works.
Love life and learning.
Stand for truth and righteousness.
Sustain the priesthood as the authority of God on earth.
Rejoice in the blessings of the temple, understand our divine destiny, and strive for exaltation.

My next question in this series is do we understand our divine destiny? I thought I’d break this question down first to know just what to look for. To understand something is defined as perceiving “the significance, explanation or cause of” that thing. Are we aware of just how significant our divine destiny is? Do we have a knowledge of what that divine destiny is? Do we know why we have that divine destiny?

Starting first with a knowledge of what our divine destiny is, something divine is like God, devoted to God and sacred. Our destiny is those things that will happen to us in the future. More specifically, the destiny we are referring to is what will happen to us after this life in mortality. Our divine destiny therefore, is what is going to happen to us after this life, that will be like our Father in Heaven and sacred. In the gospel of Jesus Christ, we have been given the scriptures to teach us what that divine destiny is.

In 2 Nephi, chapter 9, the plan is laid out for us.

6 For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man by reason of the fall; and the fall came by reason of transgression; and because man became fallen they were cut off from the presence of the Lord.
7 Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement—save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption. Wherefore, the first judgment which came upon man must needs have remained to an endless duration. And if so, this flesh must have laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more.
8 O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more.
9 And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself; yea, to that being who beguiled our first parents, who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light, and stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness.
10 O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit.
11 And because of the way of deliverance of our God, the Holy One of Israel, this death, of which I have spoken, which is the temporal, shall deliver up its dead; which death is the grave.
12 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.
13 O how great the plan of our God! For on the other hand, the paradise of God must deliver up the spirits of the righteous, and the grave deliver up the body of the righteous; and the spirit and the body is restored to itself again, and all men become incorruptible, and immortal, and they are living souls, having a perfect knowledge like unto us in the flesh, save it be that our knowledge shall be perfect.
14 Wherefore, we shall have a perfect knowledge of all our guilt, and our uncleanness, and our nakedness; and the righteous shall have a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment, and their righteousness, being clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness.
15 And it shall come to pass that when all men shall have passed from this first death unto life, insomuch as they have become immortal, they must appear before the judgment-seat of the Holy One of Israel; and then cometh the judgment, and then must they be judged according to the holy judgment of God.
16 And assuredly, as the Lord liveth, for the Lord God hath spoken it, and it is his eternal word, which cannot pass away, that they who are righteous shall be righteous still, and they who are filthy shall be filthy still; wherefore, they who are filthy are the devil and his angels; and they shall go away into everlasting fire, prepared for them; and their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever and has no end.
17 O the greatness and the justice of our God! For he executeth all his words, and they have gone forth out of his mouth, and his law must be fulfilled.
18 But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever.

The destiny which awaits us after this life, begins with resurrection. We cannot become like God, unless we are resurrected as He was. Jesus Christ was the first to be resurrected and because he overcame death, we all have the divine destiny to be resurrected. After that resurrection, we will all be judged for our works. Those who lived righteously, will fulfill their divine destiny because of their deeds in this mortal life. The divine destiny of those who follow Jesus Christ, is an inheritance of the kingdom of God and joy for eternity. This is not where the divine destiny ends. The inheritance of all that God has to give, includes great power. In Doctrine and Covenants 132:19, we read of the promises to those who take upon themselves the new and everlasting covenant of marriage in this life. It reads, “… Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—…and if ye abide in my covenant, … it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever. (emphasis added)” The power of God to have spiritual seed forever, is the divine destiny of all the faithful and covenant people of God. This means that part of our divine destiny, is to be spiritual parents of countless children who may inhabit worlds without end. It is the opportunity to forever be with our families we love so dearly. That is joy that is eternal.

This is what we can hope for as we travel this mortal journey. Are we aware of just how significant this divine destiny is, or why we even have a divine destiny? We learn from the scriptures, that this is the purpose of our being here. In Moses 1:39 we read, “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” The work of God and the purpose of sending us here to this earth, is to give us the opportunity to gain immortality and eternal life. The first, immortality, has been accomplished for all mankind, by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He experienced the resurrection and caused that all of us will be resurrected no matter what. The second, eternal life, is the rest of our divine destiny that I wrote of above. In Abraham 3, the purpose for us being here is written as follows:

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.

We are here to prove that we can be faithful and obedient to God, so that we can have the glory of God forever, or in other words, so that we can fulfill our divine destiny.

I wonder what it would be like to have just a glimpse of life in the pre-mortal world. From the gospel of Jesus Christ, we know that we are here because we chose to follow the Savior at that time. This life is our first estate that the scripture above talks about. We were obedient to God’s plan and used our agency to follow it. Our spirits, with the unveiled knowledge we had gained in the pre-existence, wanted to have this opportunity to show that we could choose for ourselves to return to live with God again. That desire is there in each of us. As we walk this life, we can sometimes loose our way because life and all it entails, fills our view and clouds the goal. I wonder how it would be if we could truly understand, that we all were excited to strive for our divine destiny. We were striving for that, because we understood then what our alternative was. Obviously, having that glimpse would negate the purpose of our being here to learn and grow through our choices, but it is something interesting to think about.

The plan of God offers an opportunity to use our agency, which requires a choice. The choice of our divine destiny, or a destiny without God and godliness. Alma 41 describes the other destiny in the following passage:

2 I say unto thee, my son, that the plan of restoration is requisite with the justice of God; for it is requisite that all things should be restored to their proper order. Behold, it is requisite and just, according to the power and resurrection of Christ, that the soul of man should be restored to its body, and that every part of the body should be restored to itself.
3 And it is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works; and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good.
4 And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil. Therefore, all things shall be restored to their proper order, every thing to its natural frame—mortality raised to immortality, corruption to incorruption—raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil, the one on one hand, the other on the other—
5 The one raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness, or good according to his desires of good; and the other to evil according to his desires of evil; for as he has desired to do evil all the day long even so shall he have his reward of evil when the night cometh.
6 And so it is on the other hand. If he hath repented of his sins, and desired righteousness until the end of his days, even so he shall be rewarded unto righteousness.

Once we are resurrected, we are judged, and all that is good will be restored to good, endless happiness, and an inheritance of the kingdom of God. This is our divine destiny. But, all that is evil is restored to evil, endless misery, and an inheritance of the kingdom of the devil. The alternative to all the blessings of heaven, is an eternity of misery. If we could know in our hearts that this gospel of our destiny is true, I don’t think a single soul would seek after the things of the devil. That is the test of this life. It is living in faith, that will bring us our reward.

As people of God, we need to come to a personal understanding of our divine destiny. I believe that we are all seeking for happiness, but it is only when we seek after things that are Godly, that we will be rewarded with Godliness and true happiness for all eternity. It is so important for us to search the scriptures and learn what God wants for us individually. I have a testimony of the plan of salvation and I know that if I really, truly do my best to keep my eye on the goal of a divine destiny, my Savior and Redeemer will help me to achieve it. I want to live today, in a way that will keep me in line with that ultimate prize. I know that the blessing of returning to be with God again and receiving power and glory that He offers to us, is what makes this life worth living well.

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What is the Purpose of Our Lives?

As a woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), I am a member of the largest women’s organization in the world. This group is called the Relief Society. Several years ago, a declaration was written for the Relief Society and the posts in this series are an attempt to apply this declaration to my life more. In this attempt I will be breaking down the parts of it into questions that I would like to try to answer through study. To view other posts related to this declaration, go here: Relief Society Declaration.

One of the greatest things about the gospel, is that it teaches us the answer to this burning question. What is the purpose of our lives? The answer can be given through the plan of God, which was presented to all of us in the pre-mortal existence, or the time when we lived with God before we were born on this earth. The purpose of His plan was to bless us with the greatest blessings possible. In Moses 1:39 we read, “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” To give us these blessings, we had to be allowed the opportunity to come to earth, gain a body and experience mortal life with all its blessings and hardships. In Abraham 3:25, the Lord said, “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;”. Also in Doctrine and Covenants 98:14 we read, “Therefore, be not afraid of your enemies, for I have decreed in my heart, saith the Lord, that I will prove you in all things, whether you will abide in my covenant, even unto death, that you may be found worthy.” This life is a time for us to prove ourselves obedient to the commands of God.

Part of the purpose of our lives is to keep the commandments, which we can find throughout the scriptures. One of the commandments is to believe in Christ, who is the Savior of us all. 1 John 3:23 reads, “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.” Why is part of the purpose of life to have faith in Jesus Christ? Because he is our Savior and Redeemer. Through the power of His infinite atonement, the Savior made it possible for us to live with God again and to have immortality and eternal life. John 14:6 reads, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Without faith in Him, we cannot use the atonement in our lives, which means we cannot be made clean enough to live with God again through repentance. I think that coming unto the Father means also, to believe and come to know God as well. When we have faith in Christ and follow Him, we come to know God as well. 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.” The purpose of our eternal lives is to know God and Jesus Christ, and so it should therefore be part of our mortal purpose as well.

If we believe in Christ, the next step is to repent of our sins. This is part of the purpose of life. We will all make mistakes, because that is part of the human condition. Through repentance we change our will to be like that of God’s will, so that we can become more like him. We are here to learn how to be like our Father in Heaven, who is perfectly righteous. In Doctrine and Covenants 50:28 we read, “But no man is possessor of all things except he be purified and cleansed from all sin.” We are here to gain all things, which can only be done when we repent and apply the cleansing power of the atonement. The scriptures teach us time and time again about the importance of repentance in our lives. In Alma 12:24 we read, “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.” We were given this time to repent and prepare.

Baptism

The next commandment and step in the purpose of our lives, is to be baptized. John 3:5 teaches us this commandment, “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Baptism must be followed by faithful endurance. Doctrine and Covenants 18:22 says, “And as many as repent and are baptized in my name, which is Jesus Christ, and endure to the end, the same shall be saved.” In Proverbs 19:16 we read, “He that keepeth the commandment keepeth his own soul . . .”. If we are faithful to the commandments, we will be worthy of the blessings that God wants to give us. To endure, we must live as active and worthy members of God’s kingdom on earth. We need to be in the service of God. Doctrine and Covenants 115:5 reads, “Verily I say unto you all: Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations;”. It is our duty, to stand as a witness of God at all times, and to serve Him in all areas of our lives. Mosiah 2:17 teaches us about service. “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” Part of the purpose of our lives is to serve our fellow men.

We learn from the story of the creation, another part of our purpose here. In Genesis 1:28 we read, “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” We are here to learn how to have a righteous dominion over the things that we are given. This means over the animals, the plants and other living things on the earth, as well as all other things that are given to us by God. This earth and the things on it, will be the inheritance of the righteous. In Doctrine and Covenants 63:20 we read, “Nevertheless, he that endureth in faith and doeth my will, the same shall overcome, and shall receive an inheritance upon the earth when the day of transfiguration shall come;”. I believe that after this life, if we are faithful, we will also be given the opportunity to rule over our own kingdoms, worlds, spiritual children, and other creations. In this life, we need to prove ourselves capable of taking care of these things and having dominion over them.

Another part of the reason and purpose for our lives is to gain experience. It is to learn about trials as well as peace and joy. In Doctrine and Covenants 29:39, it teaches us why. “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 could not know for ourselves what is sweet, or what is joy, if we could not live through the things that are bitter, difficult, and trying. Through this experience we gain knowledge and wisdom, which when perfect, are traits of our Father in Heaven. In Doctrine and Covenants 130:18 we read, “Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.” We are here to gain the intelligence that we will take with us after this life.

Ultimately, our purpose is to have the happiness and joy that God promised was available to us. We are taught this principle very plainly in the book of 2 Nephi, chapter 2. In verse 25 we read, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” We exist on this earth, as mortal men and women, to have eternal joy. We can have this joy by proving ourselves worthy and prepared through keeping the commandments, finding faith in Christ, repenting of our sins, coming to know God, being baptized and confirmed, enduring as we serve and stand as a witness, being a good steward of the things God has given us, and gaining intelligence through experiencing the trials and blessings of life.

I am so grateful for the knowledge of why I am here, which I have because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It gives me a greater reason for living, to know what I am living for. I know that my life matters and has a purpose. I have felt joy in my life, through living these principles and experiencing life with faith and hope. I know that if I can do my best to live up to that purpose, I will receive blessings of joy beyond what I could ever imagine.

(To learn more about the purpose of our lives, go here: Plan of Happiness)

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.

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.

Genesis Chapter 3

In Genesis, the first two chapters have taught about the creation of the heaven and earth, all things upon the earth, and the creation of man and woman. It taught about the establishment of marriage and the law given which forbade the eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Chapter three continues teaching about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

The serpent, who is the devil, planned to deceive Adam and Eve and cause that all mankind would be miserable through his purposes. The devil was sneaky and sly in his plan, which he is in all things even now. He knows how to twist our understanding and perception of righteous things, and we must be constantly on guard for his deceptions. Satan wanted to play on the desires of humankind to know more and to want for more. He belittled God, by questioning what God had commanded of Adam and Eve. He truly is the father of lies and he proved this by saying that eating the fruit would not cause death, which it most certainly did. This lie was hidden in the truth that the fruit would cause them to know good and evil, which it did. This is a typical tactic of Satan, to distort truth and hide it among lies and false teachings, which are designed to lead us astray.

Satan did not know that he was being allowed by God to tempt Adam and Eve. Because they were given the opportunity to choose between the eternal nature of the Garden of Eden and a life of mortality on the earth, we are all here living today. Because Adam and Eve saw that the only way for mankind to increase was by their remaining with one another, they made the choice to transgress the law and be separated from the presence of God for a time. I am so glad that they made the choice they did and that I have the opportunity to prove myself worthy in this life. I love the explanation we find in 2 Nephi about the purpose of this choice. In chapter 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.
24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.
25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

I believe this to be true. The transgression of Eve followed by the choice by Adam to transgress, meant life for all of us. This choice meant that we may all have the opportunity to find joy in this life and in the eternities.

7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.
9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
13 And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
14 And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Adam and Eve experienced an immediate change, and became aware of themselves in a way that they had not known without the knowledge they received through partaking of the fruit. With this knowledge came the understanding of shame, which caused them to want to hide from the Lord. After giving an explanation of their choices to the Lord, Satan was cursed for his deceptions. God blessed mankind that we would have all power over the devil. He can tempt us and persuade us, but we have agency and the power to choose if we will follow Satan or the Lord. If we choose to follow Christ, Satan has no power over us, because the power of Christ will save us and destroy Satan. Satan’s temptations will not bind us, if we make use of the saving power of the atonement.

16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
20 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.
21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

Women were given the role of bearing children through sorrow and pain. This does not mean that we are to be sorrowful in bearing children, but rather that the physical experience would not be easy. I can attest to this fact. Pregnancy is painful, uncomfortable and causes women to grown physically and spiritually in a way that other things cannot. Men were given the role of working to provide. Husbands, are the established patriarchs and leaders of the home. This responsibility is the way that men are able to grow both physically and spiritually. Becoming responsible providers and leaders causes men to mature from the natural child-like state of mind, and pushes them to put others ahead of themselves. Life is not easy. There is constant struggle for many men, to be able to be the providers for family. It requires a great deal of strength and faith to do this well. Husbands and wives work in union, side-by-side with their wife, to create and provide for their children and family. Eve became the first mother on the earth and Adam became the first patriarch and father on the earth. However, they were not left to fend entirely for themselves at this point. Before they were cast out of the garden, the Lord made clothing for them, so that they would have some protection from the world. We are given the tools for our own protection, because God loves us. We need only seek out these tools and we will be able to find the protection that we need.

22 And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
23 Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Mankind was given the ability to know and discern between good and evil, just as God has knowledge and discernment. In order to prevent Adam and Eve from eating of the eternal fruit of the tree of life, which would give them an eternity of separation from God, the Lord cast them out of the garden and put Cherubim and a flaming sword in place to guard the tree of life. We all must live a life of trial and hardship, learning for ourselves that their is opposition in all things and that we have the agency to choose how we should live, before we can be allowed to partake of the fruit of the tree of life. It is through our turning to Christ and repenting of sins, that we may choose to return to be with God again someday. The purpose of this life is for us to learn and grow, so that we may realize the true joy of salvation and eternal life or the great sorrow and pain of eternal separation from God. I am so glad that we have the power to choose for ourselves how we may live. I am glad that the Savior made the choice to sacrifice himself for my sake. I know that their are great blessings that come through proper repentance and I have felt the joy of turning over my burdens to the Lord.

Genesis Chapter 1

The book of Genesis is an account of the beginnings of the world. It is a book written by Moses. I believe that there were portions of this record that were altered over time. Therefore, I rely on the book of Moses and Abraham, found in The Pearl of Great Price, to clarify the truths in this book. Genesis opens as follows:

1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

The creation of the world as we know it, started when God, through the work of His Son, Jesus Christ, organized the heaven and earth. This creation was not the beginning of all things, but the beginning of time and this earth as we know them. We learn this when we study the book of Moses. In Moses 1 we read the following:

33 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.
34 And the first man of all men have I called Adam, which is many.
35 But only an account of this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, give I unto you. For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.

The worlds that have been created, go on in number for eternity. The creation began with light and darkness – day and night. The book of Genesis continues:

6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

The creation continues with the atmosphere and waters of the earth and atmosphere being separated. The atmosphere was necessary first, so that all living things could be sustained by the air and moisture it provides.

9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

Next, God gathered the water on the earth, and created the land which produced grass, herbs, trees, fruit and all other plants. Plants came before animals and man because they are necessary to sustain us.

14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

In the fourth period of time, God created the stars, sun and moon to give light to the earth.

20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

Next, the animals were created physically on the earth, and each was patterned after it’s species in the animal kingdom. They came before man, I believe, to have the time to be a plentiful resource for man. Man would immediately have the need of what animals are able to provide for them.

26 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.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Finally, God created man to rule over all things that were living on the earth. We, mankind, have been created in the image of God. God has a being that we are patterned after, which means that he is not in some mysterious and unknown form. He made us like Him, because we are His children. I think that man was created last in part because the world needed to be established to provide the necessities of our lives. I think also that knowing we were created last helps us to realize that we are dependent on all of God’s creations and this can be a very humbling understanding.

I love that as He created all things, he looked them over and saw that they were good. I have written before of how I feel about this. It makes me think about reflecting on my own creations and pondering on whether they are indeed good or if they need some kind of shaping or alterations. Knowing that God saw all his creations and saw that they were good, helps me to appreciate them even more. I am learning to see my own creations as good and find an appreciation for them rather than see every little thing as a possible flaw. I am so glad that we have the opportunity to be creators in our own lives. When God was finished with the creating periods, and was reflecting on all that He had created, he saw that all things were very good. I hope that someday when I reflect on the product of my own acts throughout my life, that I will be able to say that they are very good as well.

I know that there was complete wisdom in the way this world was created. This gospel explanation of the creation makes complete sense to my soul, where any other theory does not. I am so grateful to the Lord for his creations and for the beauty of the world around me. I am so glad that he is a being of order because it gives me a foundation that I can stand on and trust in completely. I believe that God works in an orderly manner, because he is ruled by laws just as we are. There are laws of nature, space, and so on, that must be in place or all the purposes of eternity would be lost. We have laws to follow and a proper order to things. When I follow these laws and the order in my own life, I can feel safe and secure in the things I do. Finally, I know that all of God’s creations serve a purpose in the greater plan of salvation. I know that ultimately all of these things are designed to give us the means to be live on this earth, to create families, and to be able to work towards our goal of eternal life with our families.

For more about the creation story as found in Moses, see my previous posts from The Pearl of Great Price.

Abraham Chapter 3

Abraham was a prophet, called by God to preach and to lead his righteous family and followers to Egypt. So far in the Book of Abraham, we have read a few times where the Lord has protected and guided Abraham directly. Abraham’s record continues:

1 And I, Abraham, had the Urim and Thummim, which the Lord my God had given unto me, in Ur of the Chaldees;
2 And I saw the stars, that they were very great, and that one of them was nearest unto the throne of God; and there were many great ones which were near unto it;
3 And the Lord said unto me: These are the governing ones; and the name of the great one is Kolob, because it is near unto me, for I am the Lord thy God: I have set this one to govern all those which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest.

The Urim and Thummim is an instrument that God has given to prophets throughout the history of the world, which assists them in translation and receiving revelations. This instrument requires the power and authority of the priesthood in order to be used. The Lord gave Abraham a Urim and Thummim in which he learned about all the stars, including the star of Kolob, which governs all the other stars we can see. From the footnote for Kolob, it references other scriptures which teach us about heaven, and the place where God is. I think that Kolob is the closest place to God.

4 And the Lord said unto me, by the Urim and Thummim, that Kolob was after the manner of the Lord, according to its times and seasons in the revolutions thereof; that one revolution was a day unto the Lord, after his manner of reckoning, it being one thousand years according to the time appointed unto that whereon thou standest. This is the reckoning of the Lord’s time, according to the reckoning of Kolob.
5 And the Lord said unto me: The planet which is the lesser light, lesser than that which is to rule the day, even the night, is above or greater than that upon which thou standest in point of reckoning, for it moveth in order more slow; this is in order because it standeth above the earth upon which thou standest, therefore the reckoning of its time is not so many as to its number of days, and of months, and of years.
6 And the Lord said unto me: Now, Abraham, these two facts exist, behold thine eyes see it; it is given unto thee to know the times of reckoning, and the set time, yea, the set time of the earth upon which thou standest, and the set time of the greater light which is set to rule the day, and the set time of the lesser light which is set to rule the night.
7 Now the set time of the lesser light is a longer time as to its reckoning than the reckoning of the time of the earth upon which thou standest.
8 And where these two facts exist, there shall be another fact above them, that is, there shall be another planet whose reckoning of time shall be longer still;
9 And thus there shall be the reckoning of the time of one planet above another, until thou come nigh unto Kolob, which Kolob is after the reckoning of the Lord’s time; which Kolob is set nigh unto the throne of God, to govern all those planets which belong to the same order as that upon which thou standest.
10 And it is given unto thee to know the set time of all the stars that are set to give light, until thou come near unto the throne of God.

We learn here, that a revolution on Kolob, is one thousand years to us on earth. We also learn here that the moon is greater than the earth in its movement of time. According to these verses, Abraham was taught that the moon revolves more slowly than the earth, which is the proper order of time because it is above the earth, which I think means that it is closer to Kolob. Then he was taught that the next greater planet will move even slower because it is closer to Kolob. These things were revealed to Abraham to know the nature of time for the earth, planets and stars.

11 Thus I, Abraham, talked with the Lord, face to face, as one man talketh with another; and he told me of the works which his hands had made;
12 And he said unto me: My son, my son (and his hand was stretched out), behold I will show you all these. And he put his hand upon mine eyes, and I saw those things which his hands had made, which were many; and they multiplied before mine eyes, and I could not see the end thereof.
13 And he said unto me: This is Shinehah, which is the sun. And he said unto me: Kokob, which is star. And he said unto me: Olea, which is the moon. And he said unto me: Kokaubeam, which signifies stars, or all the great lights, which were in the firmament of heaven.
14 And it was in the night time when the Lord spake these words unto me: I will multiply thee, and thy seed after thee, like unto these; and if thou canst count the number of sands, so shall be the number of thy seeds.
15 And the Lord said unto me: Abraham, I show these things unto thee before ye go into Egypt, that ye may declare all these words.

The Lord revealed all his creations to Abraham, with the touch of his hands. Then the Lord told Abraham that he was shown these things so that he would preach them to the people when he got to Egypt. The Lord reveals these things to the prophets, so that everyone else can learn of them. Abraham was given this knowledge to be able to teach the people and bring them closer to God. I have to wonder if the topic of the universe and time was a major topic of learning at this point in Egypt, and if this was the way that the spirit would be able to touch the hearts of mankind most.

Abraham was promised again that his seed would be great in number. This promise is an eternal promise of the blessings of eternal life, which include a posterity that goes on forever. This promise is extended to everyone who makes covenants in the temple through the sealing power of the priesthood. I am hopeful of the blessings that come from the covenants that I have made in the temple.

16 If two things exist, and there be one above the other, there shall be greater things above them; therefore Kolob is the greatest of all the Kokaubeam that thou hast seen, because it is nearest unto me.
17 Now, if there be two things, one above the other, and the moon be above the earth, then it may be that a planet or a star may exist above it; and there is nothing that the Lord thy God shall take in his heart to do but what he will do it.
18 Howbeit that he made the greater star; as, also, if there be two spirits, and one shall be more intelligent than the other, yet these two spirits, notwithstanding one is more intelligent than the other, have no beginning; they existed before, they shall have no end, they shall exist after, for they are gnolaum, or eternal.
19 And the Lord said unto me: These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all.

Here the Lord teaches Abraham about our eternal nature. Just as one planet is above another because of it relation in space to Kolob or to Him, one spirit will be above another because its intelligence is closer to that of God, who is the greatest. This makes perfect sense to me. We are all on different levels of spiritual intelligence. We learn line upon line, from our individual experiences. This is okay. I don’t think that this makes any one of us greater than another in the eternal view of things, because we are all working towards becoming like God. The important thing is that we are all striving to grow closer to Him. It is not important where we are in relation to others right now, it only matters what we are each trying to become.

20 The Lord thy God sent his angel to deliver thee from the hands of the priest of Elkenah.
21 I dwell in the midst of them all; I now, therefore, have come down unto thee to declare unto thee the works which my hands have made, wherein my wisdom excelleth them all, for I rule in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath, in all wisdom and prudence, over all the intelligences thine eyes have seen from the beginning; I came down in the beginning in the midst of all the intelligences thou hast seen.
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.

God is the being of the most intelligence, or the greatest. As the greatest, he was the creator of all that we now know, and became the leader of other spirits of great intelligence. Those spirits were chosen to be leaders in this life, such as the prophets of God. Abraham was told that he was among the greatest and was chosen before this life, or foreordained. In this group of the greatest, there was one who was like God, and He led the other foreordained leaders in creating the earth and everything on it. This leader was Jesus Christ. I have heard it said that God is the architect who designed the world, Christ is the general contractor, and there are several great spirits who were called to be the workers and who literally built the world. I think that it helps me to understand these verses more. I believe that many spirits were given the opportunity to learn and grow in their state of progression, by being given the work of creating different parts of the world we have now. This is one of those things that I am curious to know about after this life. I think it will be great to know who created the beautiful things I enjoy, and to know if I played any part in that work.

Abraham was told of the plan for the spirits in heaven. He was told about the choice we had to keep our first estate, which means to follow our spiritual leader, Christ, and choose to gain a body and live on this earth. Christ was the first, who was chosen in the pre-existance, to be our Savior and to lead us all back to God. All people who live on the earth, have kept their first estate. The Lord taught Abraham, that all those who made this choice, would be added upon. I believe that this means that we are given the opportunity to progress and gain intelligence, where those who did not choose to follow Christ, are halted in their progression. The second spirit who offered himself to be sent by God, was Satan, who led away many spirits in the pre-existence. Those spirits did not keep their first estate. Our second estate is to make and keep covenants in this life. We will be added upon forever if we choose to make and keep our covenants with God. I believe that these things are true. The knowledge of where we came from, our reason for being here, and where we are going, gives me a greater hope in this life. I am so grateful for the gospel and for the opportunity to learn and grow in intelligence, so that I may one day become like God and live with Him again.

Missionary Work

One of the biggest themes throughout the scriptures is the importance of missionary work. Throughout this blog so far, I have tagged 54 posts with it, and that is just those that seem to plainly talk about it. You can read about the call from God to preach to the people, in all of the standard works (Bible, Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants). In Doctrine and Covenants 1:18 and 23, we read the following:

And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets (v. 18)— . . . That the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world, and before kings and rulers (v. 23).

As a commandment and as something so common throughout the scriptures, it is surely part of God’s plan for us, His children.

In what ways is missionary work part of God’s plan for His children?

Isaiah 52:7 reads, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” The plan of God involves all His children having the opportunity to come unto Him, learn of Him, follow Him, make covenants with Him, and eventually return to live with Him. None of this can happen, unless each child of God has the opportunity to hear the gospel from someone else. All those who have come to know Christ, have the duty to God to help others to know the truth and have that same opportunity to choose to follow Him. None of us would be able to return to live with God again, if we did not have missionary work. When we tell others about the gospel, we are publishers of salvation.

What are some different ways the Lord has prepared for us to share the gospel?

My experience has been that when I learn a gospel truth, I become filled with excitement and the immediate desire to share it with those I love. I think that the Lord prepares us to share the gospel, through the revelation that brings this happiness. In this day, we have great access to His word, which means that we can easily study the gospel and be prepared with a knowledge and testimony of our own. We are prepared when we are given opportunities to serve others. Our actions are a great missionary tool, and allow for the chances to share the gospel, without any uncomfortable interactions. Most callings in the church, allow us to share our beliefs with others within the church, which in turn will prepare us to share with those we associate with outside of church.

Personally, creating this blog and sharing my testimony and the gospel with anyone who happens upon it through searching the internet, has been a pretty awesome way to prepare for the times when I want and need to share with those I see. This amount of study, and the act of constantly developing and sharing what I learn and know to be true, strengthens my ability to share, my comfort level in sharing, and my testimony. This has been an amazing blessing in my life.

In what ways have you seen technology used effectively to share the gospel?

I am absolutely amazed at the number of people who are using the internet specifically, to share the gospel. The church has so much to offer through it’s site, lds.org and also through many other sites such as mormon.org and the mormon messages on youtube. The development of sites such as facebook and twitter, give enormous amounts of opportunities for saints to share what they believe and I am sure that many have been brought closer to Christ through these sites. Technology is something that I am truly grateful for, specifically for the benefits that are gospel related.

Why is it important for each person to hear and understand the gospel?

Like I wrote above, none of us could return to live with God again if it were not for missionary work and the spreading of the gospel because of it. We cannot return to live with God again if we do not understand and accept the gospel. Our eternal salvation depends on hearing the gospel. We cannot know that we need to turn to Christ and the saving power of His atonement, if we do not hear of it and the amazing blessings of repentance. We will not come to know Christ, if no one shares his life and missions with us. We will not be able to be together with our families after this life, if we are not told of the priesthood and the sacred temple ordinances which can seal us to our families forever.

In what ways can we actively seek opportunities to share the gospel with others? In what ways can we prepare ourselves for such opportunities?

I know that one of the best ways to seek for these opportunities, is to pray for them. When we show God that we are willing to share with others, He will guide those who are ready, to us. We should show others with our actions, how to live a Christ-like lives and then there will be times when they will want to know why we behave the way we do. In our constant striving to live righteously, the opportunities will come.

Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles related an experience in his talk during the October 2010 conference.

Many years ago two colleagues of mine—a nurse and her doctor husband—asked me why I lived the way I did. I answered, “Because I know the Book of Mormon is true.” I let them borrow my copy of the book, inviting them to read it. A week later they returned my book with a polite “thanks a lot.”

I responded, “What do you mean, thanks a lot? That’s a totally inappropriate response for one who has read this book. You didn’t read it, did you! Please take it back and read it; then I would like my book back.”

Admitting that they had only turned its pages, they accepted my invitation. When they returned, they said tearfully, “We have read the Book of Mormon. We know it is true! We want to know more.” They learned more, and it was my privilege to baptize both of them.

This type of experience can be our own experience. We can prepare ourselves by being open and friendly with others. We can prepare ourselves by learning how to serve others. We can prepare ourselves by learning to love the gospel and by not being ashamed of it. In Doctrine and Covenants 60:2 we read, “But with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man. Wo unto such, for mine anger is kindled against them.” We all have the opportunity to be given this same talent to share the gospel with others. If we are ashamed, we cannot do what the Lord wants for us.

Most of all, I think we can prepare ourselves by learning to love others. This means forgiving, being merciful, doing away with unrighteous judgments, and feeling a deep compassion for all people. The Savior taught His disciples that we show our love for Him, by teaching others His gospel. In John 21:17 we read, “He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.”

When have you experienced the joy of missionary work?

My greatest joy of missionary work has been experienced in my own home. I believe that this is the most important place for it to start. When I have shared with my children what I sincerely believe and hope for, and then they have turned around and expressed their own beliefs and understanding, I have been filled with great joy. When my everyday actions have inspired friends to ask questions about the gospel, I have been blessed to share with them. Most of the time it does not immediately turn into a change of heart for my friends, by I know that a seed is planted and someday, they will have a desire to know more. I know that blessings will come for the work I make the effort to do. In Doctrine and Covenants 18:15 we read, “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!”

I have thought a lot of the joy that we are promised for this. I have had some moments of that great overwhelming joy in my life, and no other experience compares to those. I believe that the joy we will feel after this life will be incomparable to anything else. There is no way to comprehend just how great our joy will be if we can be with the Lord again. I know that if we can serve to help others get there as well, our joy will be greater still. What an amazing thing to look forward to, and so worth every effort in this life.

O That I Were an Angel

I’ve been doing some personal study the last few days, while I wait for my next study manual to arrive in the mail. One of the most common messages to me throughout the scriptures that I have studied so far since I began this blog in 2008, has been the importance of missionary work. I think that I have been trying to do my own part in sharing the gospel, through these posts. I didn’t want to go without some posting, so I figured I would share my feelings right now — my testimony. I want to share some of the simple truths that I know to be true to the center of my being.

I know that there is a God. He is our supreme being, our creator and more importantly our loving Father in Heaven. I believe that I am literally a daughter of God. I know that there is a bigger plan for us than just this life. In fact, I feel in my heart that this life is really just a small portion of the life we will have in eternity. The scriptures teach about the great plan of salvation, where we have an existence before we were born here, and where we will continue on to gain glories after we die. I cannot deny the personal declaration of the spirit, which I have received about this. I know with a sureness, that I was there in heaven before being born, and that I made the choice to follow the Lord, Jesus Christ, and come to earth to gain a body and experience. I have had personal witness to me that relationships existed before this life. I believe that the relationships we form in this life, can continue after if we live worthy of it. This gives me the greatest reason for living a righteous life. I know that it can be easy to live in the moment, and to have the desire to experience immediate gratification. Knowing that I can be with my loved ones, and that the relationship that I am forming with my Savior and my Heavenly Father can continue to progress and grow, is amazing. This gives purpose to my life.

There is a song, which says “There’s a right way to live and be happy”. I believe in something that I know is not a common belief among all people. There is a right way to live and a wrong way to live. We know what the right way is because of the scriptures and because of revelations to prophets of God. I believe that not only were there prophets in ancient times, but that there are prophets on the earth now. I believe the God has placed great men on the earth, to be his mouthpiece, and that he still communicates with a prophet today. I believe that Thomas S. Monson, is the current prophet of the Lord and the president of His church. I have received a personal witness of this fact as well. I believe that Joseph Smith was the prophet of God, called to restore the truth and fullness of the gospel to the earth. That gospel is the pure gospel of Christ. In that gospel, we have been given commandments and consequences. They are written plainly to me, which I understand may not be the case for everyone. I believe that when we live these commandments through faithful actions, the spirit has the power to make these things plain. What I mean by plain, is that they make perfect sense to me. I have had to walk by faith to learn these principles. I have experienced the negative and positive consequences and have learned a lot in the process. I understand that this is a life-long process and that we must continually be moving forward with faith and trying to live by God’s laws.

In this life-long process, I know that none of us will be perfect. I know that God provided a merciful option in His plan for us. This option, meant that someone had to live a perfect life and suffer for us all to pay the price for these sins, because justice is an eternal principle. A consequence and price had to be paid for all the sins of the world. I believe that Jesus Christ chose to be that individual. I believe that he was the only person who was born of direct divine lineage. He is the only begotten of the Father. He lived a perfect life. He showed us a perfect example of how to live. He was perfectly obedient and loving. He prayed and suffered for all of our sins. He died for us, and made it possible for us all live again through the great resurrection. He gave us the choice to repent of our sins. Basically, we have the option to give our sins to him, through humbling and changing our hearts for the better. He has already paid for them, so once we repent, justice has been met. When we choose to hold on to our sins, I believe we will carry them with us after this life, and then we will have to satisfy justice ourselves through our own suffering.

I believe many things about life after we die, some are very personal and sacred to me. I know that life does not end with our death here, but that is just part of what we must go through in our path to becoming more like God. I believe that we need to make covenants with God in this life, in order to gain the blessings that he promises us in the scriptures. These covenants start first with baptism. I believe that baptism is the ordinance which prepares us to make greater covenants with greater promises. I believe that baptism and a life of righteousness will earn us great rewards in this life and after it. I believe that after baptism we are worthy to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. The gift of the Holy Ghost is given only through the proper authority of God, which is the priesthood. The Holy Ghost is a teacher, comforter and guide, which I am so eternally grateful for. Furthermore, I believe that through the covenants that we can make in the temples of the Lord, we can receive all the blessings that God has promised His people. Included in those, is the blessing of being able to live with our families forever. This comes through being married and sealed in the temple. I was married and sealed to my sweetheart almost ten years ago, and my sweet children are consequently sealed to me as well. I am so grateful for this and for all the temples around the world.

There is so much more that I can say, but in short, I love my Father in Heaven and my Savior, Jesus Christ. I love my family. I love the gospel. These things give me purpose and direction. These make life worth every moment, good or bad, easy or difficult. I am grateful for the knowledge that I have gained and for the revelation and inspiration that has come from studying the scriptures. I hope that my testimony can touch someone who is searching for the truth. “O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people! (Alma 29:1)”


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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