Posts Tagged 'Premortal Existence'

A Question on Pity

(I had to rename my post due to specific attention it received. Hopefully this helps.)

A friend of mine asked a question over dinner the other night, and I thought it an interesting topic to study and discuss. Should we pity Satan? My immediate answer to the question was a reflection on the commandment to love everyone, as well as the idea in my head, that pity did not seem like something God would want us to have. I spent some time thinking about whether or not there was something wrong with having pity for someone or something, and the conclusion that I have come to is that it is not wrong. Pity for others, in the general sense, leads us to care more about them. In Psalms 103:13 we read, “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.” God has pity for His children often, and that pity leads to the mercy he extends when difficulties of life happen, or when justice halts our spiritual and physical progression. If God has pity for us, then we, as his offspring may also have pity on others. It is not uplifting or righteous, however, to have self-pity, which is a negative form of pity which Satan will use to bring us down to destruction.

So, how do pity and love fit into our feelings towards Satan? To feel pity for any being, is to feel sorrow for their misfortunes. If it is okay for me to have pity, should I feel sorrow for Satan’s misfortunes? Is it bad luck that he is in the state he is? No, it was a consequence of his choice in the pre-mortal existence. I feel sorrow, however, for the unfortunate result of the choice he made. This is also pity. I pity the possibilities he had, which he threw away. Satan has not always been that satan we refer to now. He became Satan after he, as Lucifer, rebelled and fought against God and His Son, and was thrust out of God’s presence. In Doctrine and Covenants, section 76, we read the following:

25 And this we saw also, and bear record, that an angel of God who was in authority in the presence of God, who rebelled against the Only Begotten Son whom the Father loved and who was in the bosom of the Father, was thrust down from the presence of God and the Son,
26 And was called Perdition, for the heavens wept over him—he was Lucifer, a son of the morning.
27 And we beheld, and lo, he is fallen! is fallen, even a son of the morning!

“His eventual rebellion and fall were so tragic and complete that he lost all hope for any degree of salvation, which is why the heavens wept over him” (see this lesson on Satan). I think we can feel pity for our spiritual brother, Lucifer, who was lost forever by his choices. I think that we can also feel pity for the third of our spiritual family, which he enticed and led away, lost for eternity as well.

The question still remains, should we pity Satan as the being he is now? If we were to believe that we should treat all beings in the same manner, including those who will never gain a body and experience earth life as we know it, then we would be expected to follow all the commandments in regards to Satan as well. We learn from the scriptures, that when those who know and fear God, suffer in trials of life, the Lord has pity on them. In Isaiah 63:9 we read, “In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.” There comes a point, though, where God no longer pities those who openly rebel. Rather, the Lord executes righteous judgement against them. In Zechariah 11:6 it says, “For I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land, saith the Lord: but, lo, I will deliver the men every one into his neighbour’s hand, and into the hand of his king: and they shall smite the land, and out of their hand I will not deliver them.” If this is the pattern of God, with living souls, how does it apply to Satan?

We can know what the outcome is for the rebelliously wicked. In Mosiah 2 we learn the following:

38 Therefore if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever.
39 And now I say unto you, that mercy hath no claim on that man; therefore his final doom is to endure a never-ending torment.

Again in 3 Nephi 29:7, “Yea, and wo unto him that shall say at that day, to get gain, that there can be no miracle wrought by Jesus Christ; for he that doeth this shall become like unto the son of perdition, for whom there was no mercy, according to the word of Christ!”

God loved his son Lucifer, but Satan is an enemy to God. He has already received God’s judgement and we can know for sure, that he will be eternally damned without the mercy of God. He will never be shown pity for his circumstances. He is the source of all evil. It is my belief even though he once was our spiritual brother Lucifer, that we are not expected to treat him as we are commanded to treat the souls of God who chose to follow Christ and kept their first estate. Psalms 97:10 reads, “Ye that love the Lord, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked.” We are told to hate evil, and as the source of all evil, Satan himself is evil. In Romans 12:9 we read, “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.” We must not love the effects of evil. We cannot love the source of evil. We loved Lucifer before this life and mourned his loss. I think we will feel that again when we return to God and the veil which blocks our memory of our pre-mortal life is lifted. However, it is my belief that we are not commanded or expected to treat Satan as we would other people.

Moreover, pity is akin to compassion, mercy, and sympathy. Pity is often followed by the compassion and mercy which leads to love and acceptance. With human beings, this would be a good way to forgive, love, and have the charity we desire to have towards them. There is a stanza to a poem, which I found often in my study of this topic, that I thought worth pondering.

‘Vice is a monster of so frightful mien
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.’
[Alexander Pope, Essay on Man, lines 217–20]

If we think of Satan as we read this, the last line would be, “We first endure Satan, then pity Satan, then embrace Satan”. Pity for Satan may just lead the way to embracing him. There would be a fine line there, and having pity for him may open the doors for justification of what he has done and is doing to mankind.

Finally, I found the following statement in the lesson on Satan, that I referenced above. “Although it is useful to understand who Satan is and why he is our adversary, there is potential danger in thinking and talking about Satan too much.” We should learn about Satan, that he is a real being, and come to know how he behaves and what his motivations are. But, there is danger in thinking and talking about Satan too much. I know that when I pity someone or their situations, they are on my mind often. Sometimes their situation can become all-consuming to me. I believe that having pity for Satan, would lead to spending far too much time thinking of him and not nearly enough time focusing on our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I’m grateful to my friend for posing this question and giving me the desire to ponder it. My final answer is no. I believe that we should not pity Satan. We should not put that much energy into thinking of him. Instead, we pity the unfortunate people in our own sphere, have compassion on them, help them to see the light of Christ through us, and focus our energy on what the Lord would have us do.

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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.

Abraham Chapter 5

Abraham has given an account of the six creation periods (see previous post on Chapter 4). His account continues:

1 And thus we will finish the heavens and the earth, and all the hosts of them.
2 And the Gods said among themselves: On the seventh time we will end our work, which we have counseled; and we will rest on the seventh time from all our work which we have counseled.
3 And the Gods concluded upon the seventh time, because that on the seventh time they would rest from all their works which they (the Gods) counseled among themselves to form; and sanctified it. And thus were their decisions at the time that they counseled among themselves to form the heavens and the earth.

In the seventh period of the creation, God rested from his labors. At this point, all the hosts of heaven were created. The footnote for seventh, references the sabbath. Likewise, we have six periods, or days, to do our labors, and on the seventh day, the sabbath, we should rest. I think that I learn from this, that the sabbath is an eternal principle of the gospel. I think that in heaven, we will continue having six periods or days of labor, and then the sabbath to rest and worship our God.

It sounds like the order of the creation had been planned in the council in heaven, before the creation began. This is a wise pattern to follow in our own creating. We should start something with a plan. Things may not always work out the way we think it will, but starting with a plan and trying our best to follow that plan, is a wise way to accomplish the things that we set out to do.

4 And the Gods came down and formed these the generations of the heavens and of the earth, when they were formed in the day that the Gods formed the earth and the heavens,
5 According to all that which they had said concerning every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew; for the Gods had not caused it to rain upon the earth when they counseled to do them, and had not formed a man to till the ground.
6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

I think this is another teaching that all things were created spiritually before physically on this earth. The council in heaven, made plans and all things were created spiritually, then when the earth was physically prepared for all living things, they were created upon the earth.

7 And the Gods formed man from the dust of the ground, and took his spirit (that is, the man’s spirit), and put it into him; and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.
8 And the Gods planted a garden, eastward in Eden, and there they put the man, whose spirit they had put into the body which they had formed.
9 And out of the ground made the Gods to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food; the tree of life, also, in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
10 There was a river running out of Eden, to water the garden, and from thence it was parted and became into four heads.
11 And the Gods took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden, to dress it and to keep it.
12 And the Gods commanded the man, saying: Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat,
13 But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the time that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die. Now I, Abraham, saw that it was after the Lord’s time, which was after the time of Kolob; for as yet the Gods had not appointed unto Adam his reckoning.

Adam, the first man, was created by God. Our bodies alone, do us no good, because they are purely “the dust of the ground”. I think that this means that they are made from the elements of the world. Our spirits alone, cannot progress. We were created spiritually in heaven before we came to this earth, but we were halted in our progression without the experience of gaining a body. The living soul, which is when the spirit, or breath of life, is placed into a physical body, is the next step in our eternal progression. I love something that my study manual points out. We are made up of “mortal flesh and an immortal spirit”. I think that this is why we are capable of becoming like our immortal Father in Heaven. There is immortality in all of us, but our mortal bodies hold us back. Once, we are resurrected into an immortal body, we will be able to become just as our Father in Heaven is.

There was a garden created for Adam, with the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Adam was there to take care of the garden and then he was given the commandment not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Adam was taught that the consequences of eating the fruit, would mean death. This part of Adam’s existence, was I think, still part of the pre-mortal existence. Abraham teaches here that time in the garden of eden was still like time on Kolob. I think that this is why the early generations of the old testament, lived for such a long time. As Adam transgressed, all things on the earth experienced a separation from God’s presence. This means that we had to physically be removed further from the time of Kolob as well. The earliest people on the earth, lived life closer to the time of Kolob, which was somewhere around 1,000 years for 1 year on Kolob. As time went on, and men were further separated from God, the lifespan has been reduced to what we know to be common today. The more evil there is in the world, the shorter we make our own lives.

14 And the Gods said: Let us make an help meet for the man, for it is not good that the man should be alone, therefore we will form an help meet for him.
15 And the Gods caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam; and he slept, and they took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in the stead thereof;
16 And of the rib which the Gods had taken from man, formed they a woman, and brought her unto the man.
17 And Adam said: This was bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; now she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man;
18 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.
19 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Woman was made to help man, to be his partner, and to help him not to be alone in this life. They were created from one flesh, and are to remain one in marriage. The footnote for the word cleave, references marriage and that marriage is ordained by God. In order to truly remain or become one in marriage, we must be married by the celestial law, which is only available through the sealing powers in the temple. I believe that Adam and Eve were married and sealed for eternity, by God. Because Adam and Eve did not have the knowledge of what was good and what was evil, they were not ashamed of their own nakedness.

20 And out of the ground the Gods formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air, and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them; and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that should be the name thereof.
21 And Adam gave names to all cattle, to the fowl of the air, to every beast of the field; and for Adam, there was found an help meet for him.

All the animals were created by God, but Adam was given the privilege of naming them. This was part of the establishment of the dominion that man has over all the animals of the world. Adam was truly the Lord of the earth, and we as his descendants, rule over all living things of the earth. We are given the same charge to take care of all the earth, but all human life is greater than other life. This greater is in the same sense that we are closer to Kolob and have the power to govern these things.

I am grateful for the words of Abraham. I have found a greater strength in my testimony of the creation, of the nature of God and our spirits. I know that this knowledge will help me to live a better and more complete life.

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.

Moses Chapter 4

In the preceding chapters of Moses, the Lord has taught Moses face to face, about the creation of all things on the earth, that these things existed before their earthly creation, about the first commandments given to man, and about eternal marriage. He continues to teach Moses about the things that happened in the pre-mortal existence:

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.

God refers to the confrontation that Moses just had with Satan, who had tried to tempt him to obey and worship him. The Lord teaches Moses that this same spirit sat in the council in heaven with us. In the premortal existence, we heard the plan of God, which included having a Savior to redeem us, so that we could return. Satan, or Lucifer, volunteered to bring all the children of God back to the presence of God. I think we see here the selfishness of Satan. He wanted the honor of God to be his, and he wanted to be the one with the power to save everyone else. Satan was not the “Beloved and Chosen from the beginning”, but he wanted to have the greatest purpose. Instead, our Savior said that He would do the will of God, and the glory would be God’s. Satan wanted to make us all return by taking away the gift of agency, which had been given to us for our learning and progression. The will of God, our Father in Heaven, is that we should use our agency to decide for ourselves how to live in this life and the eternities. A lot of unrighteous things come from wanting the best for people, but trying to get the result by doing the wrong things. This is a tactic that Satan has used from the beginning, to get us to fall away from God.

When Satan rebelled, he was removed from the presence of God and became the devil of this world. His desire is to lead men astray. When we fall into temptations, we hand over a portion of our agency to Him and become his servants. Satan will continue to attack those who are trying to live righteously and we will be better prepared against him, if we know what his purposes are.

5 And now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which I, the Lord God, had made.
6 And Satan put it into the heart of the serpent, (for he had drawn away many after him,) and he sought also to beguile Eve, for he knew not the mind of God, wherefore he sought to destroy the world.
7 And he said unto the woman: Yea, hath God said—Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? (And he spake by the mouth of the serpent.)
8 And the woman said unto the serpent: We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden;
9 But of the fruit of the tree which thou beholdest in the midst of the garden, God hath said—Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
10 And the serpent said unto the woman: Ye shall not surely die;
11 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.
12 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it became pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make her wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and also gave unto her husband with her, and he did eat.

Satan began his work to destroy God’s plan for man, with Adam and Eve. As the Father of all lies, he has a way of taking the truth and distorting or manipulating it so that people will think it is true. Eve had been given the commandment not to eat the fruit, but Satan lied to her and told her she would not die as God has said. Satan was trying here, to make God look like the liar. I think that he would have hoped that she would trust Satan over God if she believed this lie. We know that God was the one who spoke the truth, because we now experience both spiritual death (separation from God) and physical death (separation from our bodies).

Satan was able to convince Eve to partake of the fruit, and even though this is what he wanted in hopes of destroying God’s plan, he made the remainder of God’s plan possible. Satan did not know that this fall would be necessary for the plan of God to go forward. Satan told Eve about the gift of knowledge and wisdom that would come from eating the fruit, which did come. This knowledge makes us more like God, because we can have experiences, learn and grow. I think that Satan wanted Eve to feel like God’s commandment was meant to stop them from being like Him. Eve had a desire for wisdom, and so she partook of the fruit. Then she gave some to Adam so that he would also have wisdom. In the LDS church, we do not believe that Adam and Eve sinned against God by partaking of the fruit. Rather, we believe that they made a transgression of the law that God had given them, because if they had not done this, the plan of God would have been frustrated. I am so grateful to have the knowledge of what happened with Adam and Eve, and to celebrate Eve’s decision, because it means that I could live my life and learn and grow to be more like my Savior and Father in Heaven.

13 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they had been naked. And they sewed fig-leaves together and made themselves aprons.
14 And they heard the voice of the Lord God, as they were walking in the garden, in the cool of the day; and Adam and his wife went to hide themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

Partaking of the fruit, gave them the ability to have feelings and emotions that they did not know before then. One of these was the feeling of shame. Because of their shame, Adam and Eve covered themselves with leaves. Then, they hid themselves from God when they heard him coming. I think they did this out of shame and the feeling that they were not worthy to be in the Lord’s presence. We will all have the opportunity to face the Lord after this life and if we have not made use of the atonement through repentance, we will also feel unworthy to be in His presence.

15 And I, the Lord God, called unto Adam, and said unto him: Where goest thou?
16 And he said: I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I beheld that I was naked, and I hid myself.
17 And I, the Lord God, said unto Adam: Who told thee thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat, if so thou shouldst surely die?
18 And the man said: The woman thou gavest me, and commandest that she should remain with me, she gave me of the fruit of the tree and I did eat.
19 And I, the Lord God, said unto the woman: What is this thing which thou hast done? And the woman said: The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

Part of the repentance process is confessing our sins and transgressions to God. This is the pattern that we must follow in order to being the repentance process. First, we must realize that we have done something wrong, and feel sorrow for it. Adam admitted that he felt ashamed for his nakedness, and acknowledged his unworthiness. Then, we must admit to the things we have done wrong and acknowledge our participation in them. Adam admitted to eating the fruit. I like that our example has an explanation of why he did this. It is not wrong for us to explain why we have done things wrong, as long as we are truthful and take proper responsibility for our own actions. When we blame our actions entirely on others, we are not going to be able to truly repent or be forgiven for what we do. Recently, because of my own children, I have been able to understand the reason God asked Adam if he had done this thing. As a parent, I understand that our children learn more from an experience, when they can explain what they did or what they learned from it. When we give all the answers, they are not being given the chance to ponder it for themselves. God knew exactly what had been done and why, but He needed to give Adam and Eve the opportunity to think about what they had done so that they could be completely honest and therefore learn the most from the experience.

20 And I, the Lord God, said unto the serpent: Because thou hast done this thou shalt be 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;
21 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed; and he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
22 Unto the woman, I, the Lord God, 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.
23 And unto Adam, I, the Lord God, said: Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the fruit of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying—Thou shalt not eat of it, cursed shall be the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.
24 Thorns also, and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field.
25 By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, until thou shalt return unto the ground—for thou shalt surely die—for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou wast, and unto dust shalt thou return.
26 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living; for thus have I, the Lord God, called the first of all women, which are many.
27 Unto Adam, and also unto his wife, did I, the Lord God, make coats of skins, and clothed them.
28 And I, the Lord God, said unto mine Only Begotten: Behold, the man is become as one of us to know good and evil; and now lest he put forth his hand and partake also of the tree of life, and eat and live forever,
29 Therefore I, the Lord God, will send him forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken;
30 For as I, the Lord God, liveth, even so my words cannot return void, for as they go forth out of my mouth they must be fulfilled.
31 So I drove out the man, and I placed at the east of the Garden of Eden, cherubim and a flaming sword, which turned every way to keep the way of the tree of life.
32 (And these are the words which I spake unto my servant Moses, and they are true even as I will; and I have spoken them unto you. See thou show them unto no man, until I command you, except to them that believe. Amen.)

There are always consequences for our actions. In a lot of instances, the consequences reach a lot farther than just ourselves. In the case of Adam’s transgression, the consequences affect every person who has ever come to the earth since that time. Women bear and raise children through sorrow and pain. We all have to work our “by the sweat of [our] face” in order to survive. We have to deal with temptations of Satan and with the weeds and other obnoxious things in our lives. And finally, we all will experience physical death because of Adam and Eve’s choice, but we choose for ourselves if we will experience spiritual death. Our strength comes in knowing that God has given us the power to be stronger then these things, especially the workings of the devil. We just have to realize that this strength comes from our Father in Heaven and so we must turn to Him. More specifically, the power to bruise the head of the serpent comes through the posterity of Eve, or of woman, because the Savior came and He saves us all from anything that Satan can do. The Savior has made it so that we will all overcome physical death through the resurrection, and we all have the ability to overcome spiritual death through repentance.

Even though Adam and Eve had transgressed, God was still there for them. He had clothes made to cover them and then they were kept safe from partaking of the fruit again, be being sent out of the garden and by the tree being guarded from them. Even though the consequence was to be away from the presence of God, God was still there as their loving Father in Heaven. All of the consequences given to Adam and Eve, are actually the ways that cause us to learn and grow the most. I am grateful for the opportunity to have children even though there is a lot of hardship and pain that comes from it. I am also very glad to have hardships and to have the ability to make mistakes in life, because these are the things that I can get the most out of later on. I am most grateful for my Savior and that He has made it possible for me to find strength, hope, and guidance in every area of my life.

Building and Strengthening Families

I was asked to speak at church today and have spent all week using my study time to prepare for this talk. I figured I’d share it since that is what I have been thinking about.

Everything about the gospel revolves around our earthly and heavenly family. Our church leaders have stressed to us time and time again, just how important the family is. It is so important, that they have revised the church handbook, to have family as the focus. In the current handbook, it says the following:

The family is ordained of God. It is the most important unit in time and in eternity. Even before we were born on the earth, we were part of a family. Each of us “is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents” with “a divine nature and destiny” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102). … As part of our Heavenly Father’s plan, we were born into families. He established families to bring us happiness, to help us learn correct principles in a loving atmosphere, and to prepare us for eternal life.

I’m sure we all have a pretty good idea what a family is, but it may mean something a little different to each of us. Just to make sure that we all have an understanding, a family is a group that usually live together in the same household. For some this means parents and children, but for others it may mean a husband and wife, or just you as an individual when those related to you are not nearby. For some family means a roommate or close friends. There is also ward families, which are considered a families because they are united by the gospel of Jesus Christ. No matter what you think of when you hear the word family, we have been told by the church leadership “to put family first and to identify specific ways to strengthen [our] individual families.” (M. Russell Ballard, What Matters Most Is What Lasts Longest, October Conference, 2005) We need to build and strengthen our families.

The word build means to “construct [or establish] … by putting parts … together over a period of time”, to make a “permanent part of a structure”, or to increase the size or extent of something (see online dictionary). Using this definition, we build our families by bringing individual people together, specifically a man and woman, establishing ourselves as a permanent group, through marriage, and then increasing in size and extent by becoming parents. In the Topical Guide, the word build references the word edify. We edify through giving instruction and uplifting for improvement.

The gospel teaches us everything that will help us to build our families. The Savior taught what foundation we should build our families upon. In 3 Nephi 14:24-27 we read the following:

24 Therefore, whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock—
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand—
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it.

We need to build upon a rock or a sure foundation. The Lord later revealed to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery the following in D&C 6:34:

34 Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. (emphasis added)

Then later he explains what His rock is. In D&C 11:24 He said the following

: 24 Build upon my rock, which is my gospel;

Our sure foundation is the gospel of Jesus Christ and it will keep our families strong when the rain and floods come.

So we know what it means to build and what to build upon. To strengthen means to increase strength, fortify, reinforce, improve and to intensify. It also can mean to encourage, animate, and to hearten. (see online dictionary) These are the things which we need to do for our families. This strengthening is important for the individual members of the family as well as the family as a whole, because our family strength comes from the strength of the individuals coming together. The question becomes, how do we build and strengthen our family?

We build our families to be eternal families, by being sealed to them in the temple. No matter what our situation is, we should be working towards the goal of the temple, or attending regularly if we are already endowed members. One of the most common blessings that I have heard people talk about from temple attendance, is the feeling of fortification and strength from the world around them. If we live our lives so that we will always be worthy to attend the temple, even if we are not able to go all the time, will help our homes to become like the temple. In addition to attending the temple, we can build our families by working on family history as a family. Spending time talking to our parents about their ancestors brings unity and appreciation for those who have come before us. We should also teach children about their ancestors, so that they will someday have a desire to join their own family with generations before.

We build families by putting our priorities in the proper order when it comes to having children. It was a commandment given to our first parents Adam and Eve, that married couples should multiply and replenish the earth. If we hope to become like our father in heaven, then having posterity, when possible, is part of it. If the opportunity does not come, we still need to have the desire to raise children. Those who do not have children, should be doing what they can to teach and love the children they are in contact with. This behavior will enrich us as individuals and will carry over into our family. Those who are married and able to have children, but choose to put other priorities before physically building their family, will not receive the amazing blessings that come from it.

Edifying our family will build and strengthen it. When studying for this talk I came upon a talk by Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve, which he gave in the April 1999 Conference called “Strengthening Families: Our Sacred Duty“.

“The key to strengthening our families is having the Spirit of the Lord come into our homes. The goal of our families is to be on the strait and narrow path.”
“With the help of the Lord and His doctrine, all the hurtful effects from challenges a family may meet can be understood and overcome. Whatever the needs of family members may be, we can strengthen our families as we follow the counsel given by prophets.”

The best edification I can think of, comes from studying and living the gospel. Having both personal and family prayers and scripture study, every day, will strengthen our families. Adults need to teach these things to children. In D&C 68:28 we read, “And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord”. When we take the time to do these things, we will be able to recognize the spirit in our homes. I think that prayer is one of the best ways to keep a family strong. I believe that there is truth to the phrase “the family that prays together, stays together”. Family prayer gives us the opportunity to express openly our hopes and concerns for our loved ones. When I was expecting my youngest daughter, I was experiencing some concerns that had to do with a medical condition I had at the time. I was in need of comfort from my Heavenly Father and had been praying a lot about it. My oldest daughter, was asked to say the prayer and I had not openly shared my concerns with her. I have to explain that when she prayed, she didn’t normally ask for things in the expected way. For example, instead of saying “we ask thee to bless this food”, she would say “we thank thee that this food will be blessed”. That night, her words were, “we thank thee that everything will be alright for Mommy and the baby”. I was immediately overcome with a feeling of peace that I had needed, because I knew her little prayer was just what Heavenly Father wanted me to hear. This experience strengthened me and our family. I am so grateful for family prayers.

The spirit will be able to be in a home that is full of good entertainment, such as uplifting movies and music. My family has enjoyed picking a song from the Children’s Song Book or a hymn and trying to learn and memorize it together. Parents should be also aware of how children are entertaining themselves and teach them ways that they can enjoy good wholesome entertainment and recreation. We should make sure that we are not bringing anything in that would keep the spirit out. Also, taking the time to teach how to recognize the spirit in our homes is a good thing to do. Last year, my family had the opportunity to have the missionary discussions in our home and it was a wonderful source of strength for us. Then after these experiences, we talked about how we felt during the discussions. This was a great opportunity to teach my daughter how she can recognize the spirit.

We need to remember that everyone in our family has flaws and things that they need to improve. Increasing the love and understanding in our homes will help to strengthen our families. Elder Hales said our homes should be a “safe place where each family member feels love and a sense of belonging.” We need to learn more about one another and recognize that we all have different opinions, interests and talents, and that we all deserve to be loved. Love is increased through kindness, respect, and care for one another. We should speak in a way that will invite the spirit. In my experience, nothing puts up walls of defense quicker than angry or mean words. There will be things that we disagree about and there may be times when we don’t like the things that others are doing. I recently took a strengthening marriages class, where there was a lot of emphasis on the fact that we cannot change other people. They are responsible for their own changes as they should be. We can, however, live as an example to them and many times, this will lead to their own decision to change. If we spend some time improving and strengthening ourselves, our example will very likely cause our entire family to be strengthened also. I have seen many examples in my own family, which have caused me to want to improve myself, and those individuals never had to come out and say anything directly to me. This can also work for the negative examples as well, so we should be striving as individuals to keep the commandments and follow the counsel of our church leaders. We should use our example to influence our family members to make better choices for themselves. In his talk Elder Hales said the following:

“While we may despair when, after all we can do, some of our children stray from the path of righteousness, the words of Orson F. Whitney can comfort us: “Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving [mother’s and] father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for [our] careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with [our] faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God” (Orson F. Whitney, in Conference Report, Apr. 1929, 110).”

Making time to be together as a family is really important. We should make our Sabbath, a day when we can attend church together, worship together, and do things together that help us to keep this day holy. We should also have family home evening every week, no matter what our family situation is. Take this time to learn together and to allow everyone the opportunity to share their testimonies. This may be a good time for a family council as well. Our family has included this in the past, so that we could schedule our activities for the week, express our concerns, and work through our difficulties in an atmosphere of openness and love. I think that one of the most important things about family home evening, is finding the time to have fun together. We should take time in our family nights, as well as at other times, to make family traditions, share our talents, and enjoy being with one another. Elder Marion D. Hanks shared the following:

“Young people want and deserve parents and a family they can be proud of. … The influence of a good family is well-captured by this account from an unknown source:
“‘It was a gorgeous October day. My husband Art and I were down at the boat landing helping our friend Don drag his skiff up on the beach. Art remarked wistfully that it would be a long time before next summer, when we could all start sailing again. “You folks ought to take up skiing like our family and have fun the year round,” Don said.
“‘“Doesn’t that get pretty expensive?” I asked.
“‘Don straightened up and smiled. “It’s funny,” he said. “We live in an old-fashioned house. … For years we’ve been saving up to have the bathroom done over. But every winter we take the money out of the bank and go on a couple of family skiing trips. Our oldest boy is in the army now, and he often mentions in his letters what a great time we had on those trips. You know, I can’t imagine his writing home, ‘Boy, we really have a swell bathroom, haven’t we?’”’” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1968, 57; or Ensign, June 1968, 75).

We don’t have to do things that cost a bunch of money to spend time with our families, but we should place the priority where it belongs. We can improve our families by sharing our time playing and having fun, but we can also spend time working together on chores, projects, homework, service to others, and more. These experiences may give us the opportunity to teach family members skills like self-reliance and charity. In addition, having meals together is a great way to build up our families. I loved dinner-time when I was growing up. We used this time to talk about not only the happenings of our days, but the doctrine of the gospel also. Eventually, these gospel-centered discussions during dinner became known to us as meatball discussions and we still love to have them when we get together as adults.

We can encourage and hearten our family members by spending individual time with them. Husbands and wives should go on dates and spend time listening and sharing with one another. President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) said, “Love … cannot be expected to last forever unless it is continually fed with portions of love, the manifestation of esteem and admiration, the expressions of gratitude, and the consideration of unselfishness” (“Oneness in Marriage,” Liahona, Oct. 2002, 36). I have seen how strengthening marriage is directly related to the strength in the whole household. In addition, having individual time with children doing activities or just talking with them, will build them up in confidence and will help them to know that they are loved and have support at home.

To strengthen and build our families, we need to make them the priority and focus of our lives. “President Brigham Young explained that our families are not yet ours. The Lord has committed them to us to see how we will treat them. Only if we are faithful will they be given to us forever. What we do on earth determines whether or not we will be worthy to become heavenly parents.” (in conference report, April 2003; Gospel Principles [manual, 1997], 231.)

In closing, I’d like to share the words of one of my favorite children’s songs (My Eternal Family):

I am a builder working each day To build my family. And I will do the best I can To serve them lovingly. I am a builder growing so tall And learning ev’ry day To speak with kindness in my home, To help at work & play. I am a builder building a home; I seek the Lord in prayer. And as I try to live God’s word I feel the Spirit there. I am a builder serving the Lord And following His plan To help my fam’ly come back home And live with Him again. My Heavenly Father sent me here And He knows I can be Strong and righteous as I build my eternal family.

I am so grateful for my family. I find so much hope and joy in knowing that I am sealed to my husband and children. I hope that we are all striving to make our families stronger, so that when hard times come, they will not fall. I look forward, with so much excitement, to seeing our heavenly parents and family some day.

D&C Section 38 (Part 1)

Historical Background

In January of 1831, there was a church conference and this revelation was given at that time through the Prophet, Joseph Smith. This revelation was needed to strengthen the saints. In it they received a reason for the commandment to move to Ohio, and they learned more of the Lord’s plan for the saints and His church.

Jesus Christ Is the Great I Am, Alpha and Omega

“THUS saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great I Am, Alpha and Omega, . . . (v. 1)”. In Exodus 3:14 we read, “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” To the Jews, the Lord was know as the great I Am. He is all things that can be found “from A to Z”. I don’t think that we can fully comprehend the meaning of this because it has to do with the infinite and eternal nature of God, which we can only slightly grasp as mortals.

“Seraphic Hosts of Heaven”

“. . . the beginning and the end, the same which looked upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven, before the world was made (v. 1);”. The angles of the pre-existence, or the time before the world was created, are the seraphic hosts of heaven. They are known here as angels who have not yet received a body. The God of Moses was He who saw all of the time of this world and knew us all before we came to this earth.

Omniscience of God

“The same which knoweth all things, for all things are present before mine eyes (v. 2);”. In this revelation, we learn that God knows all things. He is not still learning like we are and like we will continue to do after this life, He can see all things and knows them all. The manual I am using to study, helps to further establish this fact. If we know that with knowledge comes power and we believe that God has the power to do all things, then he must have all the knowledge to have that power. He could not have all of one without all of the other. Our faith in the power of the atonement and hope in salvation, comes from believing that God knows everything that anyone has experienced and knows in every life that has ever been. Without this belief, there can be no hope in the blessings of eternal life.

Christ the Creator

“I am the same which spake, and the world was made, and all things came by me (v. 3).” Jesus Christ was the being who created the world under the direction of God the Father. I think that everyone needs to have a reminder on a regular basis of who our Savior is. Christ created this world for us and it is important to remember this and be grateful for it.

I Have “Taken the Zion of Enoch into Mine Own Bosom”

“I am the same which have taken the Zion of Enoch into mine own bosom; and verily, I say, even as many as have believed in my name, for I am Christ, and in mine own name, by the virtue of the blood which I have spilt, have I pleaded before the Father for them (v. 4).” Christ took up the city of Enoch to be with God, because of their righteousness. They were highly favored of the Lord, because they had faith and obeyed His commandments. We are promised in this verse that all those who believe in Christ and his atonement, will have the mercy of the Savior on their side. We show we believe by following the commandments and living righteously, just as the people of Enoch did.

Why Are the Wicked Facing Doom?

“But behold, the residue of the wicked have I kept in chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day, which shall come at the end of the earth (v. 5); And even so will I cause the wicked to be kept, that will not hear my voice but harden their hearts, and wo, wo, wo, is their doom (v. 6). But behold, verily, verily, I say unto you that mine eyes are upon you. I am in your midst and ye cannot see me (v. 7); But the day soon cometh that ye shall asee me, and know that I am; for the veil of darkness shall soon be rent, and he that is not purified shall not abide the day (v. 8 ).”

The wicked face doom because they cannot hear the voice of the lord and they harden their hearts against Him. As long as they are wicked, they cannot be purified, and nothing can be saved that cannot be purified through the Savior. Anything that is not purified, will not survive the Second Coming of the Lord.

“I Am in Your Midst”

The spirit of the Lord, is always around us even if we do not know that it is there. We are responsible for allowing it to enter our hearts and staying righteous enough, for it to be able to stay there.

“The Enemy Shall Not Overcome”

“Wherefore, gird up your loins and be prepared. Behold, the kingdom is yours, and the enemy shall not overcome (v. 9). . . Therefore, be ye strong from henceforth; fear not, for the kingdom is yours (v. 15).” The work of the Lord, will always win in the end. We may loose faith and fail on our own, but if we can keep the faith, we will be on the winning side. If we are prepared, than we can stand firm against the enemy of righteousness and we will prevail.

2 Nephi, Chapter 24

(Isaiah 14)

The great and dreadful day of the Lord (Continued from Chapter 23)

More things that Isaiah prophesied would happen to the righteous at the time of the second coming:

  • They will choose Israel, and set them in their own land (v.1)
  • The people shall take them and bring them to their place (v. 2)
  • They shall return to their lands of promise (v. 2)
  • They shall take them captives unto whom they were captives (v. 2)
  • They shall rule over their oppressors. (v. 2)
  • The Lord will give them rest, from sorrow, and from fear, and from the hard bondage (v. 3)

How did Lucifer fall from heaven?

The name Lucifer is written only once in the Bible, and it can be found in Isaiah 14.  Verse 12 reads, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!”  Lucifer is the name that Satan had in the premortal existence.  In the Bible Dictionary we can read more about the name Lucifer.  “Literally the Shining One; also Lightbringer or Son of the Morning. Lucifer is also known as Satan or the devil. . . Apparently Lucifer is the name of the devil before his rebellion and fall. Latter-day revelation clarifies the fall of Lucifer and equates him with Satan.”  Isaiah mentions Lucifer in this chapter because the fall of the King of Babylon is like the fall of Satan. The King wanted all the glory of his victories and did not acknowledge God’s hand in it.  When Lucifer offered his plan in the premortal existence, he sought for the glory that belonged to God.  Because Lucifer wanted the glory, his plan was not chosen and he was angry and fell from the presence of God.

God had the power to stop Lucifer from rebelling against Him and taking so many souls with him.  But Lucifer had the gift of agency, and God will not take away the choices we have.  Lucifer chose to fall and become Satan.  In D&C 76 we read, “And was called Perdition, for the heavens wept over him—he was Lucifer, a son of the morning (v. 26).  And we beheld, and lo, he is fallen! is fallen, even a son of the morning (v. 27)!  And while we were yet in the Spirit, the Lord commanded us that we should write the vision; for we beheld Satan, that old serpent, even the devil, who rebelled against God, and sought to take the kingdom of our God and his Christ—(v. 28 )”  Then in Revelations 12:7-9 we read, “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels (v. 7), And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven (v. 8 ).  And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him (v. 9).”  Likewise, the King of Babylon made the choice not to recognize the Lord’s hand in his work and therefore he and his followers fell.  

Isaiah continues, “This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth; and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all nations (v. 26).  For the Lord of Hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul? And his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back (v. 27)?”  We too have the gift of agency.  We had this gift in the premortal existence and we chose to follow the Savior.  We use our agency everyday and we will determine if we will be with the righteous at the second coming and ultimately if we will live with our Father in Heaven again.


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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