Plan of Salvation

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Forgiveness

I really enjoyed this quote from George MacDonald about forgiveness:

“…unforgivingness to our neighbour; the shutting of him out from our mercies, from our love—so from the universe, as far as we are a portion of it—the murdering therefore of our neighbour. It may be an infinitely less evil to murder a man than to refuse to forgive him. The former may be the act of a moment of passion: the latter is the heart’s choice. It is spiritual murder, the worst, to hate, to brood over the feeling that excludes, that, in our microcosm, kills the image, the idea of the hated. We listen to the voice of our own hurt pride or hurt affection (only the latter without the suggestion of the former, thinketh no evil) to the injury of the evil-doer. In as far as we can, we quench the relations of life between us; we close up the passages of possible return. This is to shut out God, the Life, the One. For how are we to receive the forgiving presence while we shut out our brother from our portion of the universal forgiveness, the final restoration, thus refusing to let God be All in all? If God appeared to us, how could he say, “I forgive you,” while we remained unforgiving to our neighbour?” – MacDonald, George (2012-05-17). Unspoken Sermons Series I., II., and II. (Kindle Locations 569-576).

This reminds me of something a mentor of mine once said, “To deny forgiveness is to burn the bridge over which you too must pass.” I am confident that it was my offering unconditional forgiveness to one particular person who had hurt me that opened the world of God’s redemption and light into my life.

MacDonald insightfully points out that as we ourselves constitute a portion of this universe, by denying forgiveness in our little corner of it, we selfishly and impossibly attempt to place limitations on the infinite atonement. By doing so we make forgiveness for ourselves an impossibility, after all, Jesus himself said:

“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt 6:15 NIV)

When it comes to forgiveness, according to musician Matthew West, the prisoner that it really frees is you (song is available on Spotify and iTunes).

To truly forgive, one does not just cease their hatred, offense, or unkind feelings toward another, no, it must blossom into a true and genuine love toward the offender.

A passing-by of the offence might spring from a poor human kindness, but never from divine love. It would not be remission. Forgiveness can never be indifference. Forgiveness is love towards the unlovely. – MacDonald, George (2012-05-17). Unspoken Sermons Series I., II., and II. (Kindle Locations 534-536).

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In Defense of Perfection

I’ve been observing two things (one good and one bad) being conflated into a single topic and then dismissed altogether. This is much like the proverbial baby being thrown out with the bath water and I want to take a shot at expressing my thoughts about it.

In one way, I see a true principle under attack by its meaning being diluted and reassigned to something negative, the final effect being that the principle itself and it’s true meaning are frowned upon.

I’m talking about the word perfection. Read Full Post

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Mercy and the Mother

 
I have put the words that I believe are related directly to the divine Mother motif in ALL CAPS AND BOLD. The following verses in this article area all connected to each other and certain key points have been emphasized.

I encourage you to open your scriptures and take the time to ponder them in context and look for other connections because they are everywhere.

The Tree and the Virgin

1 Nephi 11:7
the TREE
which bore the fruit
which thy father tasted

1 Nephi 11:8
I looked and beheld a TREE
the beauty was far beyond
yea, exceeding of all beauty
and the whiteness thereof
did exceed the whiteness
of the driven snow

1 Nephi 11:13
I beheld a VIRGIN and she was
exceedingly fair & white

1 Nephi 11:15
A VIRGIN most beautiful and fair
above all other VIRGINS

1 Nephi 11:18
the VIRGIN which thou seest is the
MOTHER of god after the manner of the flesh [original manuscript & 1830 edition]

1 Nephi 11:20
I beheld the VIRGIN again
bearing a child in her arms (vs.7 – tree which bore the fruit)

1 Nephi 11:21
knowest thous the meaning of the TREE?

Note that the tree itself (not the fruit) and the virgin are both ‘exceedingly’ beautiful/fair and white (another word for pure). The virgin and the tree are synonymous but that is Read Full Post

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Boundaries & Becoming

Boundaries define everything that exists. Boundaries are where chaos ends and existence begins. Boundaries tell us what something is and what it isn’t.

“[Christ’s] salvation depends on his being precisely what he is and nothing else;”  Lecture 7:9

If we read the various creation accounts in Genesis, Moses and Abraham we see God dividing things. By dividing light from darkness he created a boundary, whereas before there would have been nothing. He divided the waters of the firmament, the seas from the land, animal life from the seas and land, man from the earth, and the woman from the man. Finally, mankind was divided from God during the fall.

Each of these steps was an act of division. Division is creation because dividing creates boundaries, and in the process something new is defined. Living organisms all start with a single cell that divides billions of times to form what could be any variety of complex life.

Computers work on a binary system that begins with a 1 and a 0, electricity and no electricity, something and nothing. From that 1 and 0, you can create infinite strings of digits that can be crafted to produce entire worlds Read Full Post

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An Amazing Creation Sequence With a Surprising Twist

I have not yet seen the film The Tree of Life although the title alone draws my interest. This particular sequence depicts the creation in a manner that is very similar to the creation sequence in the presentation of the LDS temple endowment. In both instances, we see the earth being organized and life appearing.

In this Hollywood version, we see the process of evolution being depicted and I realize that some people might have a problem with that. Personally, I do not have any problems with evolution being part of the creation process (that’s a whole other subject) but if you do, I invite you to focus on the symbolism, the principles and overall beauty of the story being told here and the surprising little gem towards the end.

At 12 minutes in you have this really powerful and thought-provoking scene that seems to be symbolically depicting the first act of grace or mercy where one dinosaur decides to not kill another one that is evidently injured or dying. What makes the scene striking is how such a thing does not fit within the law of the jungle.

In a creative twist, showing an act of mercy coming from a dinosaur rather than a human is making a bold statement. It is unexpected and makes the principle stand out even more.

It is a moment where compassion, this sense of caring and love enters the scene of creation for the first time. Like the temple video, I think we can pause on being literalistic and appreciate the principles being symbolically illustrated. Indeed, if we are to be instructed by symbolic teaching at all, we must suspend literalism and learn to view things from many facets.

All in all, I absolutely love this entire sequence and was quite amazed to find something of this nature coming out of Hollywood.

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David O. McKay Temple Address

I’m not aware of any other documents quite like this one. Here we have a general authority, David O. McKay, explaining temple ceremonies and covenants to a group of missionaries just before they receive them. I’ve had this in my personal collection for a few years now, I got it from a public pdf hosted on the BYU Idaho website. I think this would be a great thing to study for anyone preparing to enter the temple, and an insightful read for anyone who has already experienced temple worship.


An address on the Temple ceremony by President David O. McKay given Thursday, 25 September 1941, at 8:30am, Salt Lake Temple Annex (Manuscript in BYU Library Collections.)

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20.)

Such was the commission given by the Savior to His Apostles just prior to the Savior’s return to heaven, following His resurrection. Such is the admonition and authority He has given you, my fellow workers, and I congratulate you this morning upon this calling and upon your acceptance of the privilege to preach the Gospel. It is not only a privilege but a great responsibility to be commissioned as a missionary in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In that commission the word “teach” is used and repeated. You are teachers. Very young men and young women to go out and show the world the philosophy of life, to teach them the proper way of living, but that is your calling.

I congratulate you on being worthy to go through the House of the Lord. Your presence here indicates that you have lived a pure life, each of you, that you are worthy to go into the presence of the Father. Are you?

I have come over here this morning particularly because I have met so many young people who have been disappointed after they have gone through the House of the Lord. They have been Read Full Post

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The Rise of Righteous Rulers: An Open Letter to Men

I’ve been working on this particular article for months, maybe close to a year. I can keep tweaking this over and over or I can just share what I’ve got thus far, so that’s what I’m doing.

Because I am a man, I’m writing this from the perspective of a man particularly to the men out there. I’m writing this to me, to the men in my family, my friends, perfect strangers and especially to the men that will dare to go near my daughters one day (sorry, that’s just the papa bear speaking). I’m writing this to hold myself accountable for the things I understand and hope that the information might help improve a relationship out there somewhere.

It is up to you to take what is useful and cast aside what isn’t.

I’ve been surrounded by females my entire life. I have three little sisters (no brothers) and am a father of four daughters (no sons) and my wife has four sisters. (and one brother, whew!) My life has been heavily influenced by females and so understanding the dynamics of men and women in life and in the gospel has always been an interesting topic to me personally.

I am repulsed at the thought or the sight of any man, including myself, oppressing my mother, wife, sisters or daughters through selfishness or “unrighteous dominion.” (D&C 121:39) More and more we see domestic violence, divorce, depression and an absence of the oneness God seems to intend. I’ve seen the criticisms of policies and doctrines of the LDS Church that some argue place men above women. It’s an understatement to say that this is a complex issue with many facets and it is not my intention Read Full Post

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Room For Doubt Respects Agency

I recently started the Book of Mormon over again in audio form while I’m at work. Chapter 6 of 1 Nephi caught my attention and led to some significant thoughts about agency.

And it mattereth not to me that I am particular to give a full account of all the things of my father, for they cannot be written upon these plates, for I desire the room that I may write of the things of God.

For the fulness of mine intent is that I may persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved.

Wherefore, the things which are pleasing unto the world I do not write, but the things which are pleasing unto God and unto those who are not of the world.

Wherefore, I shall give commandment unto my seed, that they shall not occupy these plates with things which are not of worth unto the children of men. (1 Nephi 6:3-6)

The limited resources Nephi had forced him to focus on what was most important. He desired to record “the things of God” over things that were pleasing unto the world; think about that. What types of things would Read Full Post

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The Course Which They Pursue

the-course

Of the seven Lectures on Faith, Lecture Sixth is perhaps my personal favorite. It is the only lecture that has this footnote:

This lecture is so plain, and the facts set forth so self-evident, that it is deemed unnecessary to form a catechism upon it: the student is therefore instructed to commit the whole to memory. (Emphasis Added)

So what are these facts that are so plain and self-evident and why are they important? In verse 7 we find Read Full Post

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Definitions: 4 Verses of Alma 5

One of the most powerful scripture study tools I utilize is a Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. I have a free app version on my iPhone (sorry Android users, I don’t think there is one quite yet, but you can use this site) that I use practically every time I’m in the scriptures.

I’ve been studying Alma 5 quite a bit and seeking to unlock its many treasures. I took just four verses, 12, 13, 14 and 15 and began to define keywords and I’ll share with you some of these definition excerpts for you to ponder.

12 And according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart. Behold I say unto you that this is all true.

13 And behold, he preached the word unto your fathers, and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God. And behold, they were faithful until the end; therefore they were saved.

14 And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?

15 Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?

MIGHTY – 1. Very strong; valiant; bold; 6. Vehement; rushing with violence; as a mighty wind or tempest.

VEHEMENT – 1. Violent; acting with great force; furious; 2. …very eager or urgent; Read Full Post

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The Greater and Lesser Arches

greater-lesser-arches

This week, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published a new gospel topic titled Becoming Like God. Personally, I thought they did a great job with this piece, hit all the right scripture verses, and explained the doctrine very well. Then, down in footnote 22, I found this fantastic observation:

In “The Place of Theosis in Orthodox Theology,” Andrew Louth describes Eastern Orthodoxy as focused on a “greater arch, leading from creation to deification” and feels that Catholic and Protestant theologies have focused on a partial “lesser arch, from Fall to redemption” to the exclusion of that whole (in Christensen and Wittung, Partakers of the Divine Nature, 35).

This observation fits so well with my recent studies concerning salvation vs. exaltation and how these to doctrines Read Full Post

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Deliverance & Rebirth: Hidden Treasures in Alma 5

alma-5-deliverance-rebirth

I was preparing an Elders Quorum lesson and felt particularly drawn to Alma 5. I fell in love with this chapter during my full-time mission days and when I really, really read it, I was highlighting so much that I actually outlined the entire contents of each page! I remember thinking: “This is just all so fantastic, I love it all!”

alma-5-scriptures

Fast forward 14 years later Read Full Post

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Taken Home

taken-home

I usually wake up slowly and roll out of bed at around 7:20am…ish.

My morning routine hasn’t been anything special, but today, I woke up right at 6am and was wide awake. Last night I had the idea to go climb to the top of one of the local foothills to pray and mediate first thing in the morning.

Well, now it was morning and I was very comfortable and my pillow felt just perfect. I settled into it and enjoyed the moment while telling myself that it would feel wonderful to drift off and catch another hour of sleep.

At the same time, however, was the notion that I was in control and could just as easily get up and pursue something more worthy. I put on some thick pants, hoodie, jacket and beanie and walked out of the house into the cold morning – I hate cold. I walked out of the neighborhood and across the street to where there are a series of foothills around Black Mountain.

As I walked I looked around trying to decide where I was going to climb. My eyes fell upon a dark, symmetrical hill that looked like the perfect spot, so I began my ascent. As soon as I reached the top, the pinkish orange hue of the clouds immediately increased to an intense level that was really quite breathtaking. After several minutes the color drained out, so I talked to God for a while, listened for a while and decided to wait for the sun to rise. The sun looked like it might be coming up closer to the South instead of the East. Then, I remembered that on the northern hemisphere in the winter, the sun rises in the South East, the same direction that Moroni on the Las Vegas Temple is pointing.

The sun was rising at this low spot between Black Mountain and another set of tall hills which meant I would get to see the sun sooner that I was expecting to. I looked East past Black Mountain and then slightly North East at the rays of the sun reaching some other mountains off in the distance. Everything the sun touched seemed to be standing at attention. I stood and faced the rising sun and the wind picked up quite fiercely, but I didn’t let it shake me.

The sun rose, partially veiled behind clouds that burned so brightly with white and gold that I had to avert my eyes. The sun had risen, although partially obscured.

I wanted to get home in time to pray with the family before the kids went to school so I began my descent. I made it back and we prayer together before my wife ran the kids to school. I fixed breakfast, went into my office and started my work day.

Just a few minutes ago, I was informed that my grandmother passed away.

We will miss you, Tutu.

“Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.” Alma 40:11

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“The Lady Of The Temple” Conference via the Academy of Temple Studies

lady-of-the-temple

This conference which took place on October 23, 2013, in Logan, Utah was filmed and posted here at the Academy of Temple Studies and at TempleStudy.com.

First off, let me just say that I was really blown away by this conference; the insights presented were so rich, edifying and paradigm-shifting. Posting this today is a bit symbolic to me personally because today I celebrate two birthdays; the day I was born of my mother in the flesh and the day I was baptized by water and the Spirit by ordinances administer by my father.

As important as fathers and priesthood authority are, it is equally important to understand mothers and motherhood and how each plays an essential role in our salvation.

Just so you know, I don’t post anything on oneClimbs.com unless I feel that it is of particular value. I recommend viewing all of these videos and not skipping a single one because they build upon each other.

If you are a woman, then stop what you are doing and watch this conference!

I was the only boy in my family and was blessed with three little sisters, and as a father, I have been blessed with three little daughters, so the role and divine purpose of women is something close to my heart. I think that the information presented in this conference will be part of a greater understanding of women in the plan of salvation.

The beauty and inspired nature of LDS doctrine concerning men and women in God’s plan is seen afresh and in a new light, or perhaps, a more correct light. The truth is right there in front of us, we just don’t really understand what it is we are seeing, or worse, Read Full Post

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Repentance: a process of addition not subtraction

repentance-addition-subtraction

I came across this post the other day that had some interesting perspectives on repentance. How many Saints are focused way too much on the “subtraction” aspect of the repentance process? How many are locked in guilt-laden cycles focused on ceasing behavior instead of receiving the power of grace?

“[Repentance] is a process of addition – not subtraction. It is a process of acquisition, not elimination…You repent by ceasing to try to lessen who you are and allowing [Christ] to increase who you are. In short, you repent by “losing yourself” and “finding yourself”.

From a blog titled: Things of my Soul by post author “Papa D” (some parenthesis removed)

I can testify that the principle of allowing Christ to increase you is true because I have experienced it. You are not saved merely by ceasing your iniquity; sin is sin and once committed, it condemns you without the mercy of Christ. Seeing as how we continue to sin all the days of our lives, we are continually at the mercy of the grace of Christ.

It is only by adding the atonement of Jesus Christ that salvation is found.

Thus all mankind were lost; and behold, they would have been endlessly lost were it not that God redeemed his people from their lost and fallen state. (Mosiah 16:4)

What do you think?

  • What is your perspective on the atonement of Christ?
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“Have You Been Saved?” by Dallin H. Oaks

By Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, May 1998

What do we say when someone asks us, “Have you been saved?” This question, so common in the conversation of some Christians, can be puzzling to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because it is not our usual way of speaking. We tend to speak of “saved” or “salvation” as a future event rather than something that has already been realized.

Good Christian people sometimes attach different meanings to some key gospel terms like saved or salvation. If we answer according to what our questioner probably means in asking if we have been “saved,” our answer must be “yes.” If we answer according to the various meanings we attach to the terms saved or salvation, our answer will be either “yes” or “yes, but with conditions.”

I.

As I understand what is meant by the good Christians who speak in these terms, we are “saved” when we sincerely declare or confess that we have accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. This meaning relies on words the Apostle Paul taught the Christians of his day:

“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

“For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:9–10).

To Latter-day Saints, the words saved and salvation in this teaching signify a present covenant relationship with Jesus Christ in which we are assured salvation from the consequences of sin if we are obedient. Every sincere Latter-day Saint is “saved” according to this meaning. We have been converted to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, we have experienced Read Full Post

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Thoughts on the Five Core Sacramental Symbols

There are at least five core elements that are used in the ordinance of the sacrament. Back on June 16th of this year I took down some ideas in my notebook concerning them so here they are. I will also be placing any number that I think is numerically significant next to the title.

1. Altar or Table (4, 1, 2)

https://elderwilkins.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/mormon-church-1.jpg

https://elderwilkins.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/mormon-church-1.jpg

  • A place where heaven and earth are bridged via covenants.
  • Altar: Zabach (Hebrew) – “to slaughter an animal”.
  • The life of the animal is represented by its blood.
  • Altars are temples in their most simple form, and the covenants made at them can vary.
  • We place things on the altar to be completely consumed, we do not expect to see them again. It is expected that all ungodliness is treated this way. Read Full Post
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Through the Veil: Pondering the Temple Experience Through Scripture

cover

I’m excited to announce the official publication of a little temple-related project that I’ve been working on. It all began with this idea: “What would it look like if you reconstructed the temple experience purely from scripture alone?”

As I pondered this idea, I realized how valuable something like this could be for people preparing to receive their endowment the first time. It would essentially be a primer to study both before and after an individual’s temple experience. So much of the temple experience is right there in the scriptures anyway but many people don’t seem to realize it. For some, it takes years of study and searching to make certain connections that give context to the purpose of temple blessings.

The culmination of these thoughts has led to the production of a 14-page document that I have titled: “Through the Veil: Pondering the Temple Experience Through Scripture”. I have done my best to preserve the sacredness of the temple while providing a study tool (with wide margins for making notes) that can serve as a fantastic temple prep resource.

This document, which has existed for a year as just a list of scriptures, has apparently been helpful enough to certain individuals that I think making it available here at oneClimbs could bless the lives of many more people, even those that have attended the temple for years.

I offer this document freely to anyone to use or share however they see fit (no permission necessary).

Click here to Download the .pdf version of “Through the Veil”

Deutsch (German) “Durch den Schleier” (Translation by Sebastian B.)

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Saved by Grace, Judged by Works?

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I was thinking about the whole grace/faith/works debate that seems to endlessly rage between the faiths.

Now we all technically believe in salvation by grace, or in other words, salvation is impossible without grace through the atonement of Jesus Christ. The disagreement seems mainly around how that grace is applied and what man’s role, if any, is in this process of salvation. All sides of the debate would probably agree that some kind of an acknowledgement of Christ’s atonement and grace on behalf of the individual is necessary in order to receive it, but at what point is one “saved”?

What frustrates me is how people on all sides of the debate seem to Read Full Post

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Understanding the Justice and Mercy of the Degrees of Glory

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Today in church we had a lesson on the doctrine of the “three degrees of glory”. A comment seemed to indicate a feeling that inheriting a particular lower degree of glory as your eternal home with no chance of progression was unjust.

The comments began around a particular verse that describes the inhabitants of the telestial kingdom as  “…they who received not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus” (D&C 76:82). I think a misunderstanding of the word “received” is where the difficulty arises. A few assumed that received meant that the individuals never got a chance to accept Christ because they never had access to the gospel.

However, the Webster’s 1828 Dictionary shows the first definition of receive as: Read Full Post

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