Chronological blog

This is a sticky post that is always on top.

As I look over my posts I feel like reading them in reverse Chronological order is all wrong. I went ahead and simply put the different years in Chronological order in a Word Document. I learned a great deal writing them. If you read them in Chronological order, you may learn along with me. They also build upon one another. Sometimes a blog post refers to a previous post. Frequently you can see that I came to understand something new and that matter is then clearly understood in later posts. If you read the posts backwards,then such realizations are lost.

You can also see the blog in chronological order by using

https://mormonmortal.wordpress.com/?order=asc

Here are the different years and their posts in chronological order as they should be.

For 2013-2014

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0ByijcSGTLFvHNkk4Q2Rkb3RVZ0k

For 2015

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0ByijcSGTLFvHamZMaWsyX3RWVG8

For 2o16

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0ByijcSGTLFvHcnF2Y1BlSkQ4NEU

Sister Quinlan Hess blog excerpt

I like to read excerpts from missionary blogs and show missionary youtube videos to my family as part of family scripture study. I want my kids to be connected to missionary work. Reading missionary blogs is an easy and persistent voice that helps. It used to be that when missionaries returned home they would do presentations about their mission. Those images and their mission stories had a subtle but profound affect on me. Since we don’t do that anymore in the church, I read to my kids from missionary blogs and show them the pictures instead. Recently I have settled onto a blog written by a gentle soul named Quinlan Hess, whose blog I ran into back when my wife noted to me that some of her facebook friends had kids with missionary blogs.

I read this excerpt from Sister Quinlan Hess’s blog to the family tonight along with scripture study.

“I bore my testimony too. Not sure why but I started crying at the pulpit. That never happens. I bore my testimony about families and how important they are. Namimiss ko talaga ung pamilya ko (I really miss my family) but I know that missionaries leave their families for a short time so other families can be together for eternity. I’m so grateful for the chance to serve and help other families. I love the people here so much and all i want for them is for them to be together with their families forever and experience the joy I experience through the gospel. I know that this is the true church on earth. Their isn’t a doubt in my mind. I know that the Gospel blesses families and we all need to share the Gospel with our families.
Alam ko na totoo ung simbahan ni Jesucristo. There isn’t a doubt in my mind. Everyday I testify to people and strive to help them return to Heavenly Father. Shall we not go on in so great a cause?
Thank you so much for all your prayers for me. I can feel them everyday. I love you all so much. Onward, Christian soldiers, Keep going and sharing the Gospel. The end is coming and we all need to be prepared. Kaya natin yen! (We can do it!)”

I then asked my kids what principally caught my attention in that excerpt. I think some of them knew immediately what I liked about it. One child rightly answered that it was the part “I really miss my family. But I know that missionaries leave their families for a short time so other families can be together for eternity.”

I feel like there is something profound in seeing the gospel and families not as separate things, but rather, when rightly seen, family is the gospel and the gospel is family. The gospel is about a divine Father having a divine Son. That is family. Procreation and marriage, and childbirth were the means to create our redemption, as Christ was begotten of his Father through a mortal mother Mary by the same powers through which mortal children are conceived. To die is to lose that body by which family ties were created. Resurrection is not about individuals, but about restoring those bodies by which our spirits were tied together into families, for it is by our bodies that a group of spirit are forged into mortal families. To separate the resurrection from the family is to misunderstand the resurrection completely. The gift of a body is the gift of family. When we gain a body, the point isn’t us as individuals gaining a body. When we gain a body, we gain a family. That is the point of a body. We gain parents and brother and sisters and grandparents and on back for all generations. Even those whose parents abandon them still gain ancestors who may watch over them. In gaining a body we gain the potential to create families that are all our own. The gospel is about a Father offering exaltation to his children. Exaltation is about having eternal marriage and eternal posterity. Where does the family end and the gospel begin in all this doctrine? You cannot separate them. They are the same thing looked at in different ways.

I did mention to the my kids the other things I liked about the missionary blog excerpt above. They are less profound: I am happy anytime I read a scripture being read like it means something about real life. Hence, I liked the reference to “Brethren, shall we not go forward in so great a cause? Forward and not backward”. Also, more particularly, I think the bit about families is too dead-on right not to be something spoken by the Holy Ghost, which makes me think that all the sentences that followed sprang from the same source and are therefore whole hearted sincerity.

It is all good stuff for potential missionaries. Which is, of course, all of us.

The bit about not generally crying at the pulpit is actually explained by Joseph Smith. Like most truth, it is a far cry from being politically correct (pun intended). But as I rarely have such a clear opportunity to point out his teaching, I will take advantage of this one.

Joseph Smith taught “This first Comforter or Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence. It is more powerful in expanding the mind, enlightening the understanding, and storing the intellect with present knowledge, of a man who is of the literal seed of Abraham, than one that is a Gentile, though it may not have half as much visible effect upon the body; for as the Holy Ghost falls upon one of the literal seed of Abraham, it is calm and serene; and his whole soul and body are only exercised by the pure spirit of intelligence; while the effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile, is to purge out the old blood, and make him actually of the seed of Abraham. That man that has none of the blood of Abraham (naturally) must have a new creation by the Holy Ghost. In such a case, there may be more of a powerful effect upon the body, and visible to the eye, than upon an Israelite, while the Israelite at first might be far before the Gentile in pure intelligence.” (TPJS page 149-150)

When we watch general conference we generally see the Holy Ghost fall “calm and serene” upon the speakers. They have the literal blood of Abraham. (Here we go, the gospel and family turning out to be intimately related again). Those that don’t have the blood of Abraham naturally must have a new creation by the Holy Ghost, and so we see a more powerful effect upon the body, and visible to the eye”.

What sort of “effect upon the body, and visible to the eye”? Do these people sprout more facial hair? Suddenly gain bigger ears or more prominent eyebrows? No, nothing like that. The visible effect upon the body is most commonly just a lot of crying. That is why we see the Holy Ghost generally settle so calmly and serenely upon the twelve in general conference, but our fast and testimony meetings are frequently full of tears. Those who generally weep when the Holy Ghost is upon them are having the old blood purged out of them and being made actually of the seed of Abraham. They need a new creation by the Holy Ghost.

It is common knowledge in the church that when a gentile is baptized into the church they are adopted into the house of Israel. But Joseph Smith gives us additional insight. It isn’t an instantaneous affair, because it isn’t really adoption. It is to obtain a new creation by the Holy Ghost. It is not like being handed an adoption certificate. Instead, it is a process, as the old gentile blood must be purged out by the Holy Ghost, and we see the visible effects of that all the time.

Nobody’s perfect, Atonement, and Zion

Within the last 10 minutes I have heard a man, speaking of the atonement, say “we have to accept our limitations” followed by another woman saying something akin to “we need to allow Christ to make up the difference”. Both thought they were explaining the doctrine of the atonement.

What rubbish.

Accept our limitations? How about if we face our rationalizations instead.

We know that the city of Enoch lived with Christ among them for many years before it was translated.

This was not the mortal Christ in meekness and poverty, this was Jehovah come to reign among them as their god. Remember that god cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. And yet here, Jehovah himself, was living day to day, month to month, and year upon year among a group of mortals.

How could this happen? Let me paint two alternatives for you.

Alternative 1. The reason Christ came and lived among these people was because they learned to accept their limitations and learned to let Christ make up the difference in their lives. They lived no better than we do in particular, because we are just as good as anyone else, or if we aren’t it isn’t our fault that we aren’t. So Christ came and lived with them for years on end. But it was not because these people lived up to the commandments so well that they could literally dwell comfortably in the presence of God as mortals.

Alternative 2. These people, who were initially wicked, learned to keep the commandments, follow the Holy Ghost, and feast upon the word so well that they, as a people lived up to their privileges. They were enabled to live better than the natural man possibly can by having the Holy Ghost as a constant companion in their lives, and thus they became saints of God in earnest. They learned to grow into the principle of revelation line upon line, learned by the mouths of angels, by the voice of the Lord from time to time, and eventually learned to live so well that Christ came and dwelt among them.

Zion is not a counterexample, showing that men don’t need the atonement.

Zion is the great example of what the atonement intended for man. When we say “nobody’s perfect” we should instead say “everybody in Zion lived so that Jehovah, who cannot tolerate the least sin, came and dwelt among them for a great many years”.

These wicked men who Enoch taught who built Zion were forgiven through the atonement. Then they kept the commandments. What if the doctrine among them was “nobody’s perfect”? That would have killed the whole thing. Zion would have failed. That doctrine is poisonous to the effects of the atonement, for its stops men in their tracks. There is no better way to separate a man from his labor than to convince him that he labors in vain. Progressing is work! And once you convince people that they are working too hard, the vast majority will lay down their efforts.

Our model of the atonement is not the woman taken in adultery. Christ did not actually even forgive her if you read the text. He didn’t utter the phrase “thy sins are forgiven thee”. He told her instead that he would not condemn her to death, and said “go and sin no more”.

Our model of the atonement is Zion. It is Salem, in which Melchizedek brought a wicked people to repent and to even be translated into heaven with Zion in a fraction of the time that the city of Zion itself was.

Salem and Zion are the model of what the atonement is supposed to accomplish. That is why we call the Melchizedek priesthood after Melchizedek. So we could remember what redemption in its fullest form looks like and how it is brought about.

Every time we say “Melchizedek priesthood” we should remember that instead of teaching “Nobody’s perfect” we should remember that “through the atonement and the gift of the Holy Ghost wicked men can become saints who live so rightly that God himself, who cannot tolerate the least sin, will come and make his place with them.”

We, particularly, should remember that. Building Zion is, itself, the great task of our dispensation.

Accept our limitations?!? Let Christ make up the difference?!?

What rubbish. How about cast off our rationalizations, and go to our god with tears and prayers in apology that we have lived so far beneath our privileges so vainly so long and beg him to show us the path we may follow to repent and delight him in righteousness once again as Enoch’s people. For that is what he called us to do.

 

 

Trust

I strongly believe that personal revelation is not to be shared except for those over whom you have stewardship. There is one exception in my mind, and that is when it is a matter that is probably more or less common, and you are mostly just adding your testimony to that of others who have preceded you on the same matter.

So I will make a quick note about something once explained to me in a dream, as I feel it is a more or less common matter among us. There was a matter I felt profound distress about over a couple of weeks or more. It was not worry about a future possibility, it was distress over actual ongoing events at the time. This was all during a time in which I had learned a lot about faith. In particular I had learned that faith which gives even the least pause, even momentarily, about “other possibilities” than what the Lord had whispered to oneself was not faith. Sometimes faith requires great determination of will to force all other possibilities out of mind at any moment they present themselves, and the difference between making that effort, and not making that effort can be a phenomenal difference in the effects of ones faith.

I was nevertheless, greatly distressed. The Lord had told me the matter would continue as long as he saw fit. As I did not expect any resolution to the matter in the short term I expected to continue in such distress for a long period of time.

And in my troubled sleep I was clearly told one night “You have learned to believe, but you have not learned to trust in the same way.” I was reminded in a moment of Joseph Smith whose first three children died and also reminded of his words about those who have passed on “It is like their taking a long journey, and on their return we meet them with increased joy.” It was also conveyed in a moment that while certainly he mourned his children, Joseph Smith did not go about in sorrow through his life for his little ones, but completely trusted. I did as was told and my distress disappeared immediately.

Zion is built on Doctrine

Zion is built on Doctrine. You can take a modern ward and let them live the gospel as they understand it today for 100 years and you will not end up with Zion.

Zion descends from above. It requires changes in our understanding, and in our hearts that the disinterested approach that we are taking to the scriptures can never bring about.

You may disagree and say that we are very interested. But the proof of the pudding lies under the crust. You listen to people talk, you listen to them teach, you listen to the speak and you come away knowing that we do not have the love for the scriptures that is necessary to bring about Zion.

I am not talking about knowing technical, finicky details about the scriptures that are of no particular relevance to salvation. We don’t understand the big things. We don’t understand the atonement. We don’t understand the real meaning of grace. We don’t understand the priesthood. We don’t understand keys. We don’t understand the temple. We don’t love the scriptures. We say we do. But you listen to us talk. We aren’t excited about what they contain. We don’t quote them as being critical insights and direction about life.

When we want to offer a critical insight about life, we quote something that could be found on pinterest instead.

I think you could safely say that some of us love the living leaders of the church. It is darn few, but they are there. They adore general conference. They know what was taught. They listen in great detail.

And I am very glad to see that. I am very glad when I talk to someone and they know and think about and are trying to live by what was taught in general conference.

But the scriptures are the fountainhead. It is the scriptures that are the great issue in these verses.

D&C 84:54 And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—

55 Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.

56 And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.

57 And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written—

58 That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion.

59 For shall the children of the kingdom pollute my holy land? Verily, I say unto you, Nay.

 

We must dive into the scriptures. We must be striving to define our lives by the truths in the scriptures. We must weigh our traditions against them, instead of weighing the scriptures by our traditions.

And we must read them by the power of the Holy Ghost.

He will come as we live worthy of him. We must cast off, desparately cast off, everything that is offense to him. We must go to God and beg from him to have the knowledge of what we need to change to gain eternal life, and to hear him clearly in our lives. We should not only let the Holy Ghost be our guide, but let those things that most powerfully bring the Holy Ghost into our lives lay out the direction for what we must be doing. When we find that one spiritual pursuit brings us potently into the presence of the Holy Ghost, such as teaching the gospel, or taking a family name to the temple, then we should pursue that as a man who is a miser pursues riches and gold. He will change his plans, alter his daily business however he needs to increase the measure of his wealth. THAT is how we need to live, but we need to do it seeking the spirit rather than seeking for mammon.

Zion cannot be built by one man. Brigham Young pointed out that some of the church members of his day had the principles of Zion in themselves, individually. But we need to not be content if someone else knows the doctrine. We need to not be content if we feel the brethren know the doctrine, or have the spirit, or know their God.

Salvation is an individual quest. We can take counsel at the hands of those who know more, but ultimately the question is how well we, ourselves, have worked out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Ultimately it will be to individuals, not to groups, or wards, or stakes that the Savior will say either “Come ye blessed” or “Depart. Ye never knew me.”

We need, as a people, to fall in love with the scriptures, for Zion is built on doctrine in the souls of the people. Zion is built by a people who feast on the scriptures. Zion is built by a people who long to know their God, and rejoice to learn of him through his word.

 

Notes from a missionary blog

I read, or at least browse, missionary blogs and missionary youtube videos. This has been an important thing in our home. We have long done family history work along with our kids as a way to introduce our children to the Holy Ghost. But I have felt like we needed more connection to missionary work in our home. We aren’t those people who know everybody, or know anybody for that matter.

So I have tried reading a post from a missionary blog or playing a returned missionary youtube video along with our family scripture study and I have felt quite pleased with the results in getting our kids thinking seriously about missionary work.

I read this quip from a sister missionary’s blog to our family along with family scripture study. It conveys something I don’t think I could have conveyed as well myself.

Sister Quinlan Hess wrote:

“Then we went to teach Brother D. This is where my week started going downhill. Brother D has recently been hanging out with a whole bunch of his friends that are skaters. Not sure what exactly has happened but he doesn’t want us to teach him anymore. He says he’s happy he met us but he says that it’s probably not his time right now to become Mormon so he’s going to return to how he used to be and wait until he’s ready. WHAT?! Are you kidding me? Why did I just spend all this time caring about you and praying for you and fasting for you and teaching you, just to have to throw it all away? And then I got really sad and mad at the same time.
Thursday: Still pretty mad and steamed up. But I got through the day. …

Friday: We had a district meeting and this one was fun. And afterwards, we went to this burger place and got Yolanda burgers. Those things are HUGE. It’s a three layer bun with hot dog, ham, two patties, cheese, lettuce, ketchup, egg, and a bunch of other stuff. The bun is maybe 6 inches across. And I finished that thing in 20 minutes🙂 hehe yessss it was so good.:”

Now I think that is just about as perfect as you could ask it to be. Maybe I say that because my children say I could have written it. All the better then.🙂

When I was a missionary I think we were all trying to learn to be what I might call “professional” missionaries. We had all seen a hundred videos of missionaries over the course of our lives, and the missionaries in every last one of them are exactly the same. They are each the same cardboard person with the same words, expressions, level of emotion and manner of speaking saying the same thing in a different body. Media is a powerful teacher, and so we thought that cardboard PR cutout was what it meant to be a good missionary, whether anyone actually said so or not.

But what you have in that blog excerpt that I read to my children is a real person teaching the gospel. At least, that is how it reads to me. I like the fact that Sister Hess does not just go through the expected level of professional disappointment. The note on Thursday is almost as compelling an example as the full description of Wednesday.

This is what I want for my boys, and any of my girls that serve missions. I don’t want my kids to be professional missionaries. I want them to be people teaching the gospel. I want their power in teaching to be the power of the Holy Ghost instead of the power of good salesmanship and a generic demeanor churned out of a church focus group. I want their power to be the unique power opened only by such righteousness that the Holy Ghost will be upon them in power from time to time.

Redemption and Atonement

As I think about the scriptural teachings on the atonement there are some marked differences between the way we think about the atonement and what the scriptures teach. There are two great marked differences between the account in the scriptures and the way we teach the doctrine of the atonement.

The first great discrepancy is that we tend to teach that the atonement is meant to save us in our sins, instead of saving us from them, by separating ourselves from them. We almost wear some types of misbehavior as a badge of honor proving that we are “using the atonement”, when of course, those are the things preventing us from partaking more fully of the atonement. The conditions on which we enjoy cleansing from the atonement are always repentance. That key fact seems to be missing from our teaching. We are only cleansed of what we have repented of. So if I am still listening to music that is a little suggestive, rationalizing that is it OK because of the atonement, I am lying to myself. Yes, I can be forgiven through the atonement. But let’s make no mistake: I can be forgiven through the atonement ONCE I REPENT. God will not be mocked.

We have certainly forgotten that God will not be mocked. We have forgotten that he says he is a jealous God, and will have no other God’s before him. We tend to think the atonement nullifies some of the scriptures. But the atonement doesn’t change Christs own words: Matthew 10: 32 He who loveth father and mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he who loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me.
Not only can we have no other God’s before him, we must have nothing that is more important to us than our obedience and devotion to him.

We tend to gloss over his requirements, quoting to ourselves the phrase “his grace is sufficient” instead of asking ourselves whether our music, movies, websites, and books truly testify that we are “denying ourselves of all ungodliness” with the same desperation that we want to claim the promise “if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind, and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you”.
We know that we must love God. But we seem to forget that God measures our love by our obedience. For Christ says “He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.”

In brief, the first great discrepancy between what the scriptures say and what we teach about the atonement is a dramatic alteration of the requirements of pressing forward diligently, casting off every evil that easily besets us, denying ourselves of all ungodliness, and strictly keeping the commandments, and learning to live and learn truth by the Holy Ghost in order to find redemption. The discrepancy is that we want to be saved in our sins, instead of being saved from them.

The second great discrepancy between what I find in the scriptures and our teachings on the atonement is the scale of the journey God requires us to make. To explain this, imagine that we are the Israelites living as slaves in Egypt, and along comes Moses telling us God wants to deliver us and has promised us a wonderful land to inherit. What is the first concern? Well, the first problem we need to surmount is that we are slaves in Egypt. That is a bit of a problem.

So God delivers us from Egypt and everyone is rightly very excited that we have been freed of our slavery, have left Egypt, and have been delivered across the red sea.

That is like our quest in this life. Our quest in this life is to be born again. So we get baptized, and yes, in a sense, we have been born again. Or we have some great spiritual experience, and yes, in some sense, we have been born again. This is all perfectly fine and is just like the Israelites. They are excited when they leave Egypt. They feel like they were set free at that point. Then the armies come and they are faced with the fact that they aren’t done yet. Then they cross the red sea on dry ground (which is a symbol of baptism) and the Egyptians are destroyed. They are all very excited. They have made great progress. But is the journey done? No. There is a destination, and they must still focus on obtaining it.

That is the other chief discrepancy I see between the scriptural accounts and our discussions of the atonement. We tend to focus on the beginning of the journey, so much so that we are coming to think it is the entire trip.

The scriptures have a bigger picture of what redemption means. It is nicely illustrated with Adam. The spirit of the Lord carries him down into the water to baptize him. Then we read:

Moses 6:65 And thus he was baptized, and the Spirit of God descended upon him, and thus he was born of the Spirit, and became quickened in the inner man.
66 And he heard a voice out of heaven, saying: Thou art baptized wit fire, and with the Holy Ghost. This is the record of the Father, and the Son, from henceforth and forever;
67 And thou art after the order of him who was without beginning of days or end of years, from all eternity to all eternity.
68 Behold, thou art one in me, a son of God; and thus may all become my sons.

Yes, being baptized and getting the gift of the Holy Ghost is being born again in one sense. Yes, there is much more conversion we need along the way, and there are any number of spiritual experiences that we might term being “born again” as we learn to have the Holy Ghost to be with us. But here, with Adam, we see the whole thing all together, and all at once. Adam has been progressing a long, long time before this, and so it all happens at once, where for most of us this is apt to take many years after we are baptized.

What happens? The Father himself testifies that the record of the Father and the Son is, from now on, that Adam is baptized with fire and the Holy Ghost, that Adam is after the order of him who is without beginning of days or end of years, from eternity to all eternity, and Adam is one in him and is now his Son. This is what is referred to in Moses 6:59 when it speaks of enjoying the words of eternal life in this world.

It concludes with the critical phrase “and thus may all become my sons”.

Now I hope our spiritual vanity is not so great that we think that you or I is yet “one in the Father” or that the Father has testified from Heaven that we are his son. But this does happen. We read of it.

Joseph Smith taught “The other Comforter spoken of is a subject of great interest, and perhaps understood by few of this generation. After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted.”

We find the same thing in 2 Nephi 31:20
2 Nephi 31:20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.

We see the same thing in Lehi’s dream. We like to think we have already arrived at the tree. Nephi says the tree is the Son of God, and the angel agrees, as that is a good enough answer for the time being. Visions are never meant to be understood in a moment. Strong inspiration from God usually grows and develops into far more than it first appeared to be. And so it is in that case. To say the tree of life is the Son of God is an OK description. But more accurately, it is the sonship of Christ, and more particularly, it is the sonship God offers to us through Christ. It is the opportunity to, after pressing forward many days, become a son of god just as Adam did. The tree that Lehi sees is a family tree. It is God’s family tree. We need to press forward to that family tree, as reaching it represents becoming part of God’s own family tree. It is what it fully means to be “born again”. We are “born” into a new family tree, and become a Son of God.

And we need not wonder. For the Father himself will testify that we have become his Son, just as he did with Adam at his baptism and with Christ at his. This was the pattern at Christ’s own baptism, which was unusual like Adam’s in that he had prepared many days, and received the whole of the matter right at baptism. There was no need for him to press forward many days after his baptism, for he had already done so. And so he received the full matter right at his baptism.

The second great discrepancy I see between our teachings on the atonement and the scriptural teachings, is that the scriptures give accounts that lay out the full route for us. But we do not do so in our own teaching. It is as if the scriptures say “well, you need to leave Egypt, cross the red sea, spend 40 years in the wilderness, take on Joshua as a leader, and cross the river Jordan and claim the promised land”. Whereas when we speak of the atonement we only say “Leave Egypt, cross the Red sea, and then just don’t get killed”. We leave off the destination. We have forgotten that the point was not to leave Egypt, but to obtain a promised land.

Faith, repentance, baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost put our feet on the path. But entering the path wasn’t the point of the atonement. The point of the atonement is the destination. The point of the atonement is for us to press forward sufficiently, feasting on the words of Christ, that we become a Son or Daughter.

Yes, the scriptures will give us the short version frequently, but they ALSO give a much larger picture of what the atonement expects of us and what constitutes redemption through the atonement repeatedly. They do so in 2 Nephi 31. They do so in Moses 6. They do so in 2 Peter 1. Lehi’s dream is actually such a picture, for the gate to the path is baptism as we learn in 2 Nephi 31, and reaching the tree is to become a son of god as Adam did.

For thus may all become his sons.

We need the bigger picture of redemption brought back into our minds, or I don’t see how we can possibly press forward in the way that is needed to obtain all that the Lord has laid out for us. The Lord knows we need this bigger view to complete the course. Such verses are, in fact, the only scripture that come with a specific command that it is to be taught, not only occasionally, but taught freely to our children. We disobey at our peril.

Moses 6:58 Therefore I give unto you a commandment, to teach these things freely unto your children, saying:

59 That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory;

60 For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified;

By the blood ye are Sanctified

We use the phrase “washed white in the the blood of the lamb” rather loosely. I think I have even heard it used at baptisms. By contrast, the scriptures use it to refer to being sanctified and made holy (e.g. Moroni 10:32-33, Alma 13:11-12). I am suspicious that when we read that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ we fail to realize that what is being said is that salvation was, and is, and is to come by being washed white in the blood of the Lamb.

Mosiah 3:18 For behold he judgeth, and his judgment is just; and the infant perisheth not that dieth in his infancy; but men drink damnation to their own souls except they humble themselves and become as little children, and believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.

The point is that the issue of salvation is the issue of sanctification. Certainly baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost set us on the path. We must be baptized by the water and the spirit. But our baptism is not yet a complete baptism, and, just like receiving the Holy Ghost, it is something that generally comes “many days” after we are baptized with water.

Moses 6:59 That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory;

60 For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified;

61 Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.

62 And now, behold, I say unto you: This is the plan of salvation unto all men, through the blood of mine Only Begotten, who shall come in the meridian of time.

What is the plan of salvation? The plan of salvation came through the blood of his only begotten. The plan of salvation has not fully taken its proper place in our lives until we are washed white in his blood, even if that takes place in our old age, for by the water we keep the commandment, by the spirit we are justified, and by the blood we are sanctified.

Joseph Smith said that a man might as well baptize a bag of sand as baptize a man without being done in view of obtaining remission of sins and the Holy Ghost. And apparently, you may as well baptize a bag of sand as baptize a man if it isn’t done in view of his eventually receiving the Holy Ghost in earnest, proving that he is willing to follow God at all hazards, and being washed white by the blood of Christ which sanctifies.

What does it mean that we are to believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent? It means that we are to believe that baptism by water and by the spirit is only half a baptism, and that both must be done in view of proving that we will follow God at all hazards that we may be washed white and sanctified by the blood of Christ.

 

He came unto his own.

It is interesting the way the Lord distinguishes between the gentiles and the Israelites. We read a verse like this without noticing the distinction made:

Mosiah 3:9 And lo, he cometh unto his own, that salvation might come unto the children of men

The phrase “his own” used here refers to the Israelites. He speaks of them as “his” people frequently in the scriptures.

True, the gospel has gone to the gentiles. But I think that the Lord makes no mistake when he calls those of the house of Israel “his own”. When did they become his? Being an Israelite is something they are born into. Consequently they became his not here, but in the premortal life. They were close to him, they were particularly obedient to him, so much so that he came to call them “his own”, and continues to do so here. Certainly, they can cast that off here in mortality as many Israelites have done. And the gentiles can repent as Ruth, and obtain choice blessings beyond measure. They can become “his own”.

But, as Joseph Smith taught “Thus after this chosen family had rejected Christ and His proposals, the heralds of salvation said to them, “Lo we turn unto the Gentiles;” and the Gentiles received the covenant, and were grafted in from whence the chosen family were broken off: but the Gentiles have not continued in the goodness of God, but have departed from the faith that was once delivered to the Saints, and have broken the covenant in which their fathers were established (see Isaiah 24:5); and have become high-minded, and have not feared; therefore, but few of them will be gathered with the chosen family. Have not the pride, high-mindedness, and unbelief of the Gentiles, provoked the Holy One of Israel to withdraw His Holy Spirit from them, and send forth His judgments to scourge them for their wickedness? This is certainly the case.”

 

Some Sunday School lessons

There are some priesthood and sunday school lessons that are simply so completely wrong that anyone who has started to know a bit of gospel is apt to experience discomfort that almost becomes like a measure of physical pain while sitting through them. I wonder about the people who teach these. I can’t believe they hold to the scriptures. I think they may read them, but I think that if they were doing them they would, of necessity, have a little more spiritual sense in what they taught.