Posts tagged ‘atonement’

Cease to be God

Reading in Alma one morning proved to be thought provoking. The 42 chapter tells of Alma’s admonition to his son Corianton. Both serving as missionaries, Corianton has struggled to preach the gospel which in turn affects Alma’s ability to gain followers. One of Corianton’s issues is found starting in verse 1:

“And now, my son, I perceive there is somewhat more which doth worry your mind, which ye cannot understand—which is concerning the justice of God in the punishment of the sinner; for ye do try to suppose that it is injustice that the sinner should be consigned to a state of misery.”

Not an unusual concern to have. Each person at some point will quesition the justice of God found in the scriptures. I think we question it more when it concerns our salvation, our suffering, the one vice we find difficult to let go. Sometimes we ask, “Will He really keep me out of heaven for gossipping or because I chose to express myself with piercings and tattoos?” To answer yes seems unreasonable and extreme. But Alma continues to explain that because we are human, we are fallen. We will all make mistakes and have weaknesses that do keep us from returning to our Heavenly Father. There are laws that must be kept and when they are not kept, a price must be paid. God is just. He cannot change universal laws, no matter how small they seem. But He can provide a way for us to escape that punishment, which allows Him to apply mercy. This is the role of our Savior’s atonement.

In verse 14-15, we read: “And thus we see that all mankind were fallen, and they were in the grasp of justice; yea, the justice of God, which consigned them forever to be cut off from his presence. And now, the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also.”

Without laws, God would cease to be God. The Savior overcame the conflicting issue of justice verses mercy. It may appear cruel that punishment follows small broken commandments but justice must prevail. As we live on this earth, we decide what degree of glory we’ll receive by how obedient we are to the commandments of God. I know that no habit or wordly pleasure is worth risking our eternal happiness. When in doubt, do without! Heavenly Father blesses the faithful but it’s always in equal proportion to their obedience. He will not give you what you do not deserve, and you do not deserve that which you did not live for. Doctrine & Covenants 88:22 states that, “For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.” Christ surrendered completely to Heavenly Father’s will and He is our example. His call has been and forever will be, “Come follow me.”

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Who did sin?

Many wonder this common and mostly unanswered question at some point in their lives: “why do bad things happen to good people?” Trials and challenges and suffering are simply part of this life, we will all be faced with difficult, if not seemingly impossible, circumstances and understandably wonder “why me? What have I done to deserve this?” a similar question was asked of Christ. In John 9: 2-3 it reads:

2And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, thisaman, or his parents, that he was born blind?

3Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the aworks of God should be made bmanifest in him.

Once again, lets define manifest so we can better comprehend Christ’s answer. Manifest is to make clear or evident to the eye or the understanding; to show plainly to put beyond doubt or question. Synonyms include obvious, apparent, unmistakable. So are the struggles or times of hardship in our lives. They become opportunities of growth, to prove to ourselves and to God that we can and will turn to our Savior for strength to overcome and conquer stumbling blocks placed in our path. I know for myself, as well as others, that times of great struggles or suffering comes the greatest growth, understanding, and strength. Like President Harold B. Lee explains, ” sometimes when [we] are going through the most severetests, [we] will be nearer to God than [we] have any idea.”

Elder Richard G. Scott also explains how God loves us perfectly and “would not require [us] to experience a moment more of difficulty than is absolutely needed for our personal benefit,” (Learning through life’s trials).

Joseph Smith’s incarceration in Liberty Jail is a wonderful example of what can happen when we trust in God during times of opposition. Better explained in Elder Jeffery R. Holland’s talk, “Lessons Learned from Liberty Jail,” the Prophet Joseph’s experience teaches that “you can have sacred revelatory, profoundly instructive experiences with the Lord in any situation [even] in the most miserable experiences of your life.” Elder Holland continues, “everyone, including, and perhaps especially, the righteous, will be called upon to face trying times. When that happens we can sometimes fear that God has abandoned us, and we might be left, at least for a time, to wonder when our troubles will ever end. As individuals, as families, as communities, and as nations, probably everyone has had or will have an occasion to feel as Joseph Smith felt when he cried from the depth and discouragement of his confinement: “O God, where art thou? … How long shall thy hand be stayed … ? Yea, O Lord, how long shall [thy people] suffer … before … thy bowels be moved with compassion toward them?” (D&C 121:1–3). When we want to cry out “O God where art thou,” we can take solace in the scripture D&C 121 :7-8

“My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;

“And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.”

What peace I feel when I read these verses. God is truly with us. He is all around us. He promises, “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” (D&C 84:88). I testify that we can and will be supported in our trials and suffering if we turn to our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ. I knowthis because I have felt the enabling power of the atonement. Serving a mission is the hardest thing I’ve ever done but I’m here and loving it because of my Savior’s mercy and because of the truthfulness of His promise found in Matthew 11: 28-30

28¶aCome unto me, all ye that blabour and are heavy laden, and I will give you crest.

29Take my ayoke upon you, and blearn of me; for I am cmeek anddlowly in eheart: and ye shall find frest unto your souls.

30For my yoke is aeasy, and my burden is light.

We will all fall. Just make sure you fall towards the Lord and not away from him. Elder Holland continues,”However heavy our load might be, it would be a lot heavier if the Savior had not gone that way before us and carried that burden with us and for us.” In moments of opposition or adversity, don’t wish it didn’t happen. This is your chance to shine! You can prove you are worthy of God’s blessings and that you will not also go away neither cast not away therefore your confidence. “Be still; and know that I am God” (D&C 101:16). When facedwith trials, trust and know that God is there, helping as you take the steps towards becoming a stronger servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Pray for strength to endure it well so you can be exalted on high. How could we expect it to be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? “Hold on thy way.… Fear not … , for God shall be with you forever and ever” (D&C 122:9).

other sources and references:

“Learning Through Life’s Trials” by Larry Richman – http://lds.org/ensign/2010/03/learning-through-lifes-trials?lang=eng&query=learning+through+life’s+trials

“Lessons Learned from Liberty Jail” by Elder Jeffery R. Holland – http://lds.org/ensign/2009/09/lessons-from-liberty-jail?lang=eng&query=lessons+learned+liberty+jail