Atonement

Sep 20, 2012
2 min read
 

Churches, Terms, Covenants and Joy

Churches

In the battle of churches, everyone is promoting their church as the gate that stands between you and your salvation. Other say that you don’t need a church, you can just go to God himself. There are many other ideologies as well, so what is true and how can you know it?

Terms

I can only speak from my own experience on this and I’ll leave others to speak from theirs. One way I look at the message that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers is in the context of “terms”. By “terms” I mean a state of agreement, a concord, a mutual relationship between man and God. The purpose of the church is to expound the terms of certain conditions pertaining to this life and the hereafter.

Covenants and Joy

“Men are that they might have joy” (2 Ne. 2:25) taught the prophet Lehi, and God desires us to have this joy now and forever. However, I think it is self-evident that outside of God’s covenants, people find great joy because joy can be found whenever true principles are lived. The birth of a child, the achievement of goals or learning something new can fill us with a lasting joy.

So how it this joy found through covenants? Do covenants imply a course of action or a pathway through life? How is joy obtained through this particular path?

Perhaps the only way to know is to walk the path ourselves.

What if we have walked the path but we find ourselves depressed, frustrated, laden with guilt, worried, fearful, angry and overcome with life around us? Where is the joy that God has promised us? What does God mean by “joy”?

In the verse “Men are that they might have joy”, maybe the word “might” can teach us something. Might can mean “may or may not” but it can also mean “strength or power”. What strength or power is being conveyed and where does this strength originate? Joy seems to be a conditional principle, but then again, so are covenants.

If we find ourselves joyless, perhaps we should examine why that is and what we are basing our joy in. Maybe the path to joy requires us to become something different by making it through and rising above things that are the antithesis of joy. Maybe a complete joy as promised by God through his covenants can only be known this way. Maybe the way is personalized to each of us and our own situations.

Consider Jesus Christ; was he joyful there, hanging from a cross, freshly beaten and abused, bleeding, with metal spikes driven through his hands, wrists and feet? What does that say about him? What does that say about us? What does that say about joy?

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Aug 26, 2012
7 min read
 

Justice and Mercy: A Unique Teaching Moment With my Kids

Meet “Peter” the Lego Friends character who also happens to be the object of the latest source of contention in the Reed household.

I’m going to try my best to accurately capture a discussion that just transpired minutes before writing this article involving myself, my seven year old and five year old. For the sake of privacy, I will refer to the 7 year old as “Mary” and the 5 year old as “Tina” (I let them pick the names).

There was a conflict over a toy that belonged to Mary, the toy was “Peter” as pictured above. Tina had come along and picked up the toy while Mary had momentarily been distracted and small riot ensued as Mary realized that her toy had been seized without her permission. It just so happens that I had spent the afternoon pondering the principles of justice and mercy, so I declined my initial instinct to barge into the room and fulfill Bill Cosby’s uncomfortably familiar observation that “Parents are not interested in justice — they want QUIET!”

I decided to be interested in justice…and mercy and take this unique time on a Sabbath-day afternoon to try and teach about both.

I gathered them both together and told them thatRead Full Post

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Aug 19, 2012
25 min read
 

Salvation: Where does one begin?

I have felt lost at various points in my life; for different reasons and in different ways. I would like to focus specifically on the question of “Where does one begin?” in the context of finding the point in which one begins to return to God and in what manner it is done.

When I began, my path was full of detours, looking beyond the mark and simply being confused in mists of darkness. If I had understood the scriptures properly I might have found what I was looking for earlier on, but fortunately, we have a very patient and intensely wise Father in Heaven who never gives up on us.

So here we go then; I hope the information provided here can be of help to others that are searching as I was.Read Full Post

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Mar 12, 2012
9 min read
 

The Founding Fathers were Overwhelmingly Religious Men

I had a discussion the other day with an individual who claimed that the founding fathers were a mix of “atheists, agnostics, deists, and Christian”. He was trying to give the impression that there were a great majority of atheists, agnostics and especially deists. One of the sources he provided was the website “Our Founding Fathers Were Not Christians” (doesn’t exist anymore as of 9/13/2018) which on its face is complete nonsense. However, the site does correctly observe the fact that that “None of the Founding Fathers were atheists”; interesting.

So now we have dismissed with the atheist argument and most likely the agnostic argument and are left with a ‘deist to Christian ratio’. The Constitution does not mention God and the Declaration of Independence is written, at the very least, from a deist standpoint.

I do not have the time to analyze all of the quotations from the website “Our Founding Fathers Were Not Christian” but I will provide one example to show how they twist the facts. John Adams was a devout Christian throughout his life and though he seemed, like Jefferson, frustrated with many of the creedsRead Full Post

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Feb 26, 2012
10 min read
 

The Book of Mormon Really Teaches This?

Please consider the power of these teachings pulled straight from the text of the Book of Mormon:Read Full Post

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Feb 3, 2012
6 min read
 

Challenging some peculiar ideas about peculiar people

“LOL, ROFL” ok, got it out of your system? As tired as this old cliché is, I think it is high time we bury it. I understand that it can be fun sometimes to play on misunderstandings of words, but when I hear people in a Gospel Doctrine setting or church talk perpetuate the peculiar = weird idea as doctrine I think we need to get our heads out of the cartoons for a while.

By continuing to perpetrate the idea that ‘peculiar’ means ‘odd’ or ‘weird’ we not only teach false doctrine, we corrupt our own understandingRead Full Post

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Dec 13, 2010
10 min read
 

Receive the Holy Ghost by David A. Bednar

I absolutely loved this talk by Elder Bednar. Some of the things he said confirmed some impressions that I had and shed some new light on a very interesting topic.

Talk by David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

October 2010 General Conference

My message focuses on the importance of striving in our daily lives to actually receive the Holy Ghost. I pray for and invite the Spirit of the Lord to instruct and edify each of us.

The Gift of the Holy Ghost

In December of 1839, while in Washington, D.C., to seek redress for the wrongs done to the Missouri Saints, Joseph Smith and Elias Higbee wrote to Hyrum Smith: “In our interview with the President [of the United States], he interrogated us wherein we differed in our religion from the other religions of the day. Brother Joseph said we differed in mode of baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. We considered that all other considerations were contained in the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 97).Read Full Post

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Nov 22, 2010
64 min read
 

Atonement and the sacred thou at the center of Joseph Smith’s Revelations by Blake T. Ostler

Visit http://blakeostler.com/ for more books, articles and information about Blake T. Ostler

by Blake T. Ostler

Blake T. Ostler

It is significant, for reasons that I will explain shortly, that Joseph Smith did not arrive at his understanding based on a theological analysis. Given his penchant for the prophetic, it is understandable that his views are not expressed as a systematic logic of carefully crafted axioms and assumptions. His ideas are not the result of logical calculation but of sacred revelation, not of evidential proof but of intimate experience. His views are expressed as rhetorical exhortations and devotional observations rather than analysis and argument. His religious vision was more like sparks flying from a flint wheel than a seamless fabric of postulates and premises. However, these sparks did not careen off the wheel at random; rather, they flashed in a common direction and in interesting patterns. His insights are like embers of thought deep in the heart seeking to catch fire; like fuel for creative contemplation.Read Full Post

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Nov 8, 2010
21 min read
 

Sacrament: The Witness of the Willing

The idea of ‘renewing’ a covenant seems initially kind of strange when I think about it. A covenant is a contract so if you break the terms of the contract isn’t the contract null and void? Why do we have to keep renewing a promise that we have already made? Or how about this: Why would God make a covenant with man, if he knows that every single one of us will break it?

I was thinking back to the era of the Law of Moses. God made covenants with Israel, yet they still had these sin and peace offerings that they could make from time to time as needed. So what exactly is going on here with the covenants we make today? When doctrinal issues seem a bit muddled, it’s always best to go to back to the source and break everything down into digestible parts.

Let’s examine the sacrament prayers themselves for more insight on the covenants we make.

The blessing on the bread:

“O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it; that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he has given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.”

First, we learn that we are eating the bread in remembranceRead Full Post

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Nov 1, 2010
6 min read
 

Understanding the atonement by understanding the body

Many of the following quotes were obtained by a presentation given at BYU by Philip A. Allred called “Made Holy in the Body“.

The body is a recording device.

Our body is literally a recording device, it is equipped with at least five known senses with which we take in the world around us. With our brain, we process the information and with our will we determine what to do with it. Here are some quotes from Presidents of the Church on this topic.

From President John Taylor:

“…I could show you upon scientific principles that man himself is a self-registering machine, his eyes, his ears, his nose, the touch, the taste, and all the various senses of the body, are so many media whereby man lays up for himself a record…” (Pres. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 26:32.)

From Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

In a real though figurative sense, the book of life is the record of the acts of men as such record is written in their own bodies. It is the record engraven on the very bones, sinews, and flesh of the mortal body. That is, every thought, word, and deed has an effect on the human body; all these leave their marks… (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 97.)

Again from Pres. Taylor:

God has made each man a register within himself…. Your eyes and ears have taken it in, and your hands have touched it… (Pres. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 11:77-80).

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Oct 3, 2010
26 min read
 

How are we “Saved”?

These questions are prompted by the occasional run-ins I have had with those of other religious traditions. Most of the time, certain verses are put forth as ‘the’ definition of how one obtains salvation. I have heard and seen some of these verses being quoted by people of other religious traditions almost like they stand independent of what the rest of the scriptures have to say. So I decided to lay out and categorize some of the New Testament verses that seem the most specific in saying ‘do this’ and ‘the same shall be saved’.

Belief or Faith

  • “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:31)
  • “And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.” (Luke 18:42)

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Aug 11, 2010
11 min read
 

Cut a Covenant

The Hebrew word covenant as we read in the Old Testament is: briyth (ber-eeth)

  • to cut
  • ‘from ‘barah’ (1262) (in the sense of cutting (like ‘bara” (1254);
  • a compact (made by passing between pieces of flesh)

Let’s explore some instances from scripture where we have something being cut or divided and then a passing between the parts.

Dividing in creation

In the Creation the following things are divided:

  1. Light from the darkness.
  2. Waters from the waters.
  3. Water from the earth.
  4. Plants from the earth.
  5. Day from night.
  6. Animals from the sea and land.
  7. Woman from man.
  8. Man and woman from Eden/God.
  9. Sacrifice instituted.

The Red Sea

Exodus 14:21,22
21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.
22 And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.Read Full Post

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