A Day of Rest

It’s probably pretty familiar. The Sabbath Day is appointed for:
1) Sacraments
2) Rest from Labor
3) Paying Devotion to God.

And I wonder – what am I doing that reflects these priorities?

Sacraments
I go to sacrament meeting each week. I wonder, what does “sacraments” even mean? According to dictionary.com – sacraments are visible signs of inward grace, especially one of the solemn Christian rites considered to have been instituted by Jesus Christ to symbolize or confer grace.

So – in sacrament meeting, we are doing what Christ taught us all to do – when He was in the upper room shortly before his suffering in Gethsemane and death on the cross:

“And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.

Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” – Luke 22:19-20

On Sundays, during our sacrament meetings, we do as Christ instructed. We take bread and water as tokens of His everlasting sacrifice. We remember Him. We covenant with Him to follow Him, and the ordinance of the sacrament is a small token of our commitment to Him.

Rest from Labor
On the Sabbath we rest from our labors. This is tricky, to me. I don’t work on Sundays – as in I don’t go to work. And I try not to do work-related things on Sunday. However, I know that there are some people who must work on the Sabbath.

Even though I don’t work on Sundays, rarely do my Sabbath days feel restful. I am a mom. I have a house to run – even on the Sabbath. I scale back some of my chores, but things still must be done, mouths must be fed, kids must be cared for. You know how it goes.

Additionally, I have a lot of work to do for church. I understand that the Sabbath is a great day to do our church work.

It’s just that sometimes, it doesn’t seem very …restful.

Onto the next subject for a second. But we’ll get back to a day of rest.

Paying Devotion to God
The Sabbath is a day set aside for us to pay devotion to God. Once again, I think that it is helpful to understand what that actually means. Devotion is profound dedication or consecration.

Of course, we should spend every day of our lives devoted to God. But the Sabbath day has been especially consecrated by God, and we should also be sure that this is a sacred day in our lives, too. I won’t get into the many ways that we can or can’t or do or do not show our devotion to God. This isn’t a post of do’s and don’t’s.

I will say, however, I have to change my attitude. Sometimes I go to church, and I might feel a little judgmental about a lesson. Maybe it could have been better. Maybe I disagree with a little something that someone said. If my mind is consecrated to the Lord, then I won’t let little things bother me at church. I will, instead, maintain a worshipful and joyful thought pattern. (To accomplish this, sometimes I turn on my phone and look at pictures of nature! They help me to remember the majesty of God and of some of my sacred experiences.) Whatever keeps my mind turned to God is good, I guess…

img_4172

When I have trouble bridling my thoughts, I just take a breath and look at a picture like this.

***

Okay, so sometimes there is still a little bit of a disconnect for me about the Sabbath day – if it is a day of sacraments and devotion to God, then how it is also a day of rest? These other two aspects of the Sabbath can sometimes feel a little bit at odds with resting – going to church for three hours?! Meetings?! Choir practices?! Sometimes my sacraments and devotions make me feel that Sunday isn’t a restful day at all.

Rest…REST! Sounds good, right? When I think of Rest, the first scripture that comes to mind is the invitation we get from the Savior:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” – Matthew 11:28-29

Hmm…I’m noticing a connection…

I think that I may have misunderstood what “rest” really is.

One
Rest from our Labors – this is the part of “resting” that WE do. We decide that the Sabbath day is consecrated and set apart, so we rest from our worldly labors and concerns and instead focus on our devotion to God.

This is the more obvious understanding of “rest,” and sometimes it may not feel all that “restful” because we are still working hard.

Two
This is the good one!

There is “rest” that we cannot do – that we cannot achieve on our own. There is a “rest” that is only offered to us through Christ.

Rest doesn’t only come when we sit back and put our feet up. That’s nice, for sure, and it is certainly a part of rest, but it isn’t really all there is to it. Rest, in the sense as quoted in Matthew, is a result. Rest is a consequence of us coming unto Christ.

This doesn’t mean being busy. It means being prayerful and contemplative. It means coming unto Him through covenanting with Him. It means serving Him. When we come unto Christ, we will offer up our sacraments and devotion to Him, and as a consequence of such behavior, we will find rest.

So – let the Sabbath Day be a day of rest – by choosing to come unto the Lord and letting Him bless you with His rest. I know that this rest is what will get us through the stress and difficulty of our lives. What a blessing and promise. The Sabbath truly is a day of rest and a delight!

The Atonement: The Beatitudes (7/8)

The Atonement and Your Personal Relationship with Christ This blog post is part of a series of posts that will explore the Atonement by studying Christ’s life in the New Testament. If you want to find the assignments, you can download my eBooks for Matthew, Mark, and Luke. (John coming soon.)

The Atonement and Your Personal Relationship with Christ – Assignment for Matthew 5

“1. Christ has officially begun His ministry here. His ministry is a part of His purpose, His goals, and is the set up to His eventual Atonement. Keep this in mind as we study His teachings. See if you can find how the Savior’s teachings fit into the Atonement, plan of Salvation, and your life, personally.
2. Each thing Christ has taught in this chapter, He has modeled Himself. He is the Exemplar. You may consider studying some of these qualities and finding instances where Christ exemplifies them. For example: poor in spirit. Find a time when Christ was poor in spirit. How can you follow His behavior in your own life?” – New Testament Study Companion: Matthew

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

So, as I study this scripture, I have to admit, this beatitude has always stumped me a little bit. It’s the promise that kind of makes me wonder…aren’t we all children of God? I mean, really, aren’t we all children of God, no matter how we act or what we do?

Obviously, I know that the Savior knows more than I do. I know that if the Savior says this then it’s not that He has to clarify, it’s that I need to seek clarity. I need to understand what He means. So…that’s what we’ll be doing today. Anyway – I’ve been trying to think of a succinct and organized way to write this post, but I’m not sure exactly how to do it. So, bear with me as I go through the thought process on 1) Understanding this Beatitude 2) Seeing how it Applies to Christ’s Atonement.

Children of God and Children of God

Nice heading, huh?

As I mentioned earlier, we are all children of God. I know this. I know that He is the Father of our Spirits. There is ample scriptural evidence of this. Heavenly Father (notice the title!!!!) formed us, created the earth, and provided a way for us to come and live on this earth so we could progress in our eternal lives. He knows each of us intimately. He is the father of our spirits.

There is absolutely no doubt that we are children of God, and I don’t think that Christ wass suggesting that we somehow have to “qualify” to become Heavenly Father’s children. However, there is a difference between being His Spiritual children of our Heavenly Father and then becoming a child of God (As in the Godhead, not solely Heavenly Father), through covenant. In fact, when we are baptized, it is referred to as being born again. To whom are we born? God.

King Benjamin Addresses the People

King Benjamin Addresses the People

King Benjamin explains this well:

“And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.” – Mosiah 5:7

Alma the younger, shortly after His conversion also teaches:

“For, said he, I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit.

And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters;

And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.” – Mosiah 27:24-26

In the beatitudes, when Christ suggests that we can become the children of God, this doesn’t refer to what we already are: Spirit sons and daughters of Heavenly Father. He refers to our receiving the blessings of the baptismal covenant with God. We are all spiritual children of Heavenly Father, but because of our fallen natures, we have been cut off from Him. In order to be a child of God, we need to covenant with Him and be spiritually reborn.

We know that Christ exemplified this Himself when He was baptized despite the fact that He was pure. He still needed to covenant with God to fulfill all righteousness. Being a peacemaker and being called a child of God is dependent on our covenanting with Him.

I think that understanding this is crucial to understanding the rest of the beatitude.

What is a peacemaker? What is peace?

The second point to understand with this beatitude is what Christ actually means by being a peacemaker. In order to understand that, we really have to ask “what is peace?” Is it simply not fighting?

Well, sure, not fighting is a part of it. (See 3 Nephi 11:29.) It is easy to think of peace in terms of how the world thinks of it – a lack of contention or war, but Christ has already explained that He doesn’t offer peace as the world defines it.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – John 14:27

The “world” has defined peace largely as an absence of warring, fighting, strife. I looked up the definition of peace on dictionary.com, and the first six definitions have to do with an absence of something – war, strife, difficulty. The seventh definition – tranquility and serenity – is probably closest to what Christ means when He offers peace. In other words, Peace isn’t merely an absence of ill will, malignant deeds, or debilitating trial. It is, instead the presence of God’s Spirit and love. Christ offers us peace of conscience. We can experience peace, in Christ, even during the midst of the most difficult trial. No one or no thing else can offer this.

When we understand peace in the way that Christ means it, then peace becomes more powerful and more desirable. Peace becomes a transcendental power rather than some innocuous vacuum-like state. Obtaining peace, then, is the first step in becoming a peacemaker, and it all goes back to the covenant that we talked about earlier in this post. We can find an equation here…

1) Covenant with God → 2) Experience God’s Love for us and feel His Peace → 3) Proclaim peace to others by sharing the gospel and magnifying our callings. = 4)Being Called a Child of God

Covenant with God in the Waters of Baptism

I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Does peace come before or after baptism? And I guess that the answer is – both. It can come to us in glimpses before baptism. This peace and comfort is what motivates us to be baptized. However, we cannot really obtain the peace that Christ offers without being baptized.

He invites us:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

When we come unto Christ and take His yoke upon us, which is taking His name upon us, which is done in the waters of baptism, then we will find rest unto our souls. When we take on Christ’s name, we’ll be able to have peace.

In order to be a peacemaker, we first need to have peace in our souls. This comes when we humble ourselves, have faith, and take upon Christ’s name in the waters of baptism.

Experience God’s Love for us and Feel His Peace

I know that this seems kind of obvious, but I want to list it as a step because it is important to recognize that we cannot possibly share something with others that we have not first obtained ourselves. We cannot make peace without first having peace.

When the people who had listened to King Benjamin’s speech accepted it, they wanted to covenant with God. They had experienced the peace that comes when we covenant with Christ.

” And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them.” – Mosiah 4:3

Proclaim Peace to Others by Sharing the Gospel and Magnifying our Callings

After obtaining our own peace of conscience through repentance and covenanting with the Lord, we can proclaim peace to others.

How does this look? Does this mean that we go around, making peace signs, telling people, “Give Peace a Chance”? Does this mean that if your kids are fighting at home, then you start singing, “Love at Home”?

Maybe.

But, really, that’s only a surface solution. Being a peacemaker is proclaiming peace. I think that Christ wants us to be the kind of peacemakers that will establish everlasting peace and joy – the peace that He offers.

A few years ago, I was on a walk listening to the radio. Several nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize were being announced. I didn’t disagree with the nominations, yet inwardly I thought to myself, “We have this all wrong, the real peacemakers are simple, young men and women. The real nominees should be the missionaries.

Elder Quentin L. Cook has taught:

“My heart rejoices when I realize that in our day tens of thousands of young men, young women, and senior missionaries have accepted the call to be emissaries of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. They are taking the restored gospel of peace to the world, one person and one family at a time—a work of righteousness to bring this peace to Heavenly Father’s children.” – Quentin L. Cook, Personal Peace: the Reward of Righteousness

The missionaries, one by one, are accepting the call to serve. They are set apart, and they leave their families, their lives, their ambitions, their futures to serve God and proclaim His gospel of peace. It is beautiful. This scripture comes to mind:

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” – Isaiah 52:7

This duty and blessing doesn’t only apply to missionaries. We can all establish peace in our homes, in our communities, and even in a worldwide setting by sharing the gospel.

There are two examples I want to share. The first is of King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon. In the Words of Mormon, we read:

For behold, king Benjamin was a holy man, and he did reign over his people in righteousness; and there were many holy men in the land, and they did speak the word of God with power and with authority; and they did use much sharpness because of the stiffneckedness of the people—

Wherefore, with the help of these, king Benjamin, by laboring with all the might of his body and the faculty of his whole soul, and also the prophets, did once more establish peace in the land.” – Words of Mormon 1:17-18

King Benjamin had followed the aforementioned pattern. He was a holy man. He had covenanted with God. He knew the peace of the Gospel. Through the authority he and other prophets held, they spoke the word of God with power. This is how they established peace in the land. They didn’t enact programs or laws. Instead, they bore pure testimony with authority. They taught the gospel of repentance. They established a culture of faith and peace.

Another example is Melchizedek. He was a prophet in the Old Testament and was also known as the prince of peace.

“But Melchizedek having exercised mighty faith, and received the office of the high priesthood according to the holy order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent; and Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days; therefore he was called the prince of peace, for he was the king of Salem; and he did reign under his father.” – Alma 13:18

Melchizedek, like King Benjamin, established peace by preaching the gospel.

We are Called the Children of God

We’ve already talked about what it means to become a child of God by covenanting with Him in the waters of baptism; however, being called a child of God comes after we proclaim peace – not after we covenant with Him. In other words, covenanting with God isn’t quite enough. It is when we keep our covenant, which includes sharing the gospel with others, that we are then called children of God.

The Prince of Peace – Jesus Christ

When Christ was born, the angels declared:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” – Luke 2:14

Even though the Savior was born, warring didn’t cease, fighting and opposition didn’t disappear. In fact, Joseph, Mary, and the very Prince of Peace would have to escape to Egypt to hide from the edict sent by Herod to kill all of the children under the age of 2. Yet we know that Christ brought peace to the earth.

We can look at the pattern discussed in this blog to determine how Christ did bring peace to the earth.

1) Covenanting with God
Christ, to fulfill all righteousness, was baptized. He covenanted directly with Heavenly Father – even though He was pure and didn’t need the cleansing effect of baptism. He exemplified what we all must do; He covenanted with God; and by doing so, he inherited all that God has – including peace and rest.

2) Experience God’s Love
Throughout Christ’s life, He experienced God’s love. He had a close relationship with His Father. When Christ was baptized, Heavenly Father announced, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” – Matthew 3:17

It is this love, I believe, that empowered Christ throughout His ministry. Because Christ was pure, He was united with God. He could feel God’s love purely. He understood His relationship with His Father, and He also expressed this pure love to others throughout His ministry.

I want to think of this feeling of God’s love and peace, however, within the context of the Atonement, itself. Did Christ feel God’s love for Him while He performed His great sacrifice? I think so.

While Christ suffered in Gethsemane, he called out, asking for the bitter cup to be removed. Yet He did Heavenly Father’s will – which was to endure the bitter agony of the Atonement. Heavenly Father didn’t leave Him alone in the Garden of Gethsemane. We read,

“And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.” – Luke 22:43

Of course, later on, Christ would be forsaken by God. I think that, in a way, this teaches us about the companionship of God – when we’re doing what is right; and how God’s love gives us unparalleled peace.

So, I invite you to follow my logic for a second.

Christ was perfect. He was pure. He had never committed any sin or infraction against the laws of Heaven that would have warranted a separation from God. Unlike the rest of humanity, He had a unique dual-nature. He was both man and the literal son of God. This may be hard to understand. Certainly, I can’t pretend to comprehend it. However, we know that His nature was literally divine. He is the literal offspring of God.

Because of this, He wasn’t bound by the effects of the fall. His purity and His godly nature enabled Him to have a closeness with God that none of us can achieve. The Savior, because of His perfect life did not know what being cut off from God felt like.

I think it is safe to say that every one of us understands being “cut off” from God. Sure there are times when I’ve felt close to God. Yet, I sin, and I’m learning, and there have been times I’ve cut myself off from God knowingly. There have also been times when I have felt like Joseph Smith when he asked, “O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?”Doctrine and Covenants 121:1 I have experienced this before. As I get closer to God, I find how precise and pure He is. I guess that what I’m saying is, as I become a more spiritually tuned being, I’m seeing how sensitive the Spirit is. In my life, the pavilion that covers God’s hiding place is often a result of my own imperfections, and unfortunately, that happens more often than I’d like.

However, the Savior hadn’t really experienced any kind of disruption between His closeness with God. He was perfect and had access to God in a way that I can’t imagine. Up until that moment on the cross. In that brief, terrible moment, in order for Christ to truly descend below all, Heavenly Father had to “forsake” His perfect Son. And when this happened, Christ immediately recognized. He cried out:

“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” – Matthew 27:46

Christ was accustomed to peace. He didn’t fret. He didn’t worry while He slept and the tempest raged. He didn’t freak out when Judas betrayed Him with a kiss. He didn’t fight Pilate, Herod, or any of the high priests who condemned Him. He was filled with the peace of God and proceeded through the work of the Atonement in a peaceful manner.

3) Proclaim Peace to Others by Sharing the Gospel and Magnifying His Calling
Okay – so this is the final part of being a peacemaker. And, boy, did Christ proclaim peace. The entire work of the Atonement is a proclamation of peace. His calling was to offer Himself as a sacrifice for sin, so we could experience peace.

I love the scripture in Isaiah:

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:5

The phrase, “the chastisement of our peace was upon Him” has always stood out to me – probably because it is relatively difficult to understand. My thought is that Christ took on the chastisement that would come as a result of our sins so we could feel peace. Mercy cannot rob justice. He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. He was chastised so that we could experience peace. His stripes heal us.

The Atonement is the greatest proclamation of peace in the history of mankind. It is because of Christ’s Atonement that we can experience peace. Truly He is the Prince of Peace, and we become peacemakers when we share the message of the Savior and His Atonement.

4) He is called a child of God
This point is pretty obvious, and my blog post is already long, so I won’t go in depth here, but it is worth mentioning.

Christ covenanted with God. He experienced Peace. He proclaimed Peace. Because of what He did: suffering, dying, and being resurrected – He was able in inherit all God has. He is a child of God. And because of Christ, we can also partake in this inheritance.

Pretty amazing, huh?!

***
I have loved studying this beatitude. What do you think of it? What have you done in your life to cultivate peace in your own heart? How have you shared this peace? What do you do to be a peacemaker?

The Atonement: The Beatitudes (5/8)

The Atonement and Your Personal Relationship with Christ This blog post is part of a series of posts that will explore the Atonement by studying Christ’s life in the New Testament. If you want to find the assignments, you can download my eBooks for Matthew, Mark, and Luke. (John coming soon.)

The Atonement and Your Personal Relationship with Christ – Assignment for Matthew 5

“1. Christ has officially begun His ministry here. His ministry is a part of His purpose, His goals, and is the set up to His eventual Atonement. Keep this in mind as we study His teachings. See if you can find how the Savior’s teachings fit into the Atonement, plan of Salvation, and your life, personally.
2. Each thing Christ has taught in this chapter, He has modeled Himself. He is the Exemplar. You may consider studying some of these qualities and finding instances where Christ exemplifies them. For example: poor in spirit. Find a time when Christ was poor in spirit. How can you follow His behavior in your own life?” – New Testament Study Companion: Matthew

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

This beatitude has always seemed fairly obvious to me. The concept of being merciful in order to obtain mercy is pretty intuitive, and it is taught by the Savior really well in the parable of the king of the evil servant. (See Matthew 18:25-35.)

Additionally, when the Savior gives the “Lord’s prayer,” he gives the pattern of receiving forgiveness from God, as we have forgiven others. (See Matthew 6:12.)

In the Book of Mormon, when the Savior visits the Nephites, he teaches: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you;” (3 Nephi 13:14).

Finally – in these latter-days, we’ve been taught to forgive others. (See Doctrine and Covenants 64:10.)

We have been commanded to forgive. And in this beatitude, Christ gives us one of the reasons why we must: so that we, too can receive forgiveness.

***

I’m trying to think of these beatitudes within the context of the Atonement – as in how does Christ model this in His performance of the Atonement? and What is the connection between this scripture and the Atonement? And, as I think about it, I find it interesting that Christ was merciful even though He didn’t need mercy. He was God. He created the earth. He was perfect. He could have progressed without obtaining any kind of mercy.

However, he extended mercy and, therefore, obtained it.

Christ’s Atonement – Merciful

So, we’ll look at the first part of the beatitude first. blessed are the merciful. During the Atonement, Christ is merciful a few different ays.

Specifically Merciful

While Christ is on the cross at Calvary, we read, “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know now what they do,” (Luke 23:34). After this act of forgiveness, the soldiers took no notice of Christ. Instead, they took his clothes and then gambled.

Keep in mind, Christ says this while He’s on the cross. It is after he has already suffered for the sins of the world in Gethsemane; After he had been betrayed by His friend and disciple; After he had been judged; After he had been mocked; and After he had been scourged. While He hangs on the cross, in unimaginable anguish, Christ forgives the people that were crucifying Him!

In this very specific way, Christ exemplifies the type of merciful behavior that we need to cultivate.

Eternally Merciful

As we think of mercy and the Atonement, it is easy to come up with a few examples: the healing of the officer’s ear. Christ’s forgiveness of the crucifiers. Those are great examples of merciful behavior, but we can’t just stop there. They only scratch the surface of the mercy of the Atonement.

The Atonement, in its essence, is about mercy. The Atonement is the single most merciful act ever done. We have to look at the big picture – what the Atonement does for all of us.

***
First, we have to understand a few facts:

  1. God is just.
  2. We, mortal men and women, are fallen creatures.
  3. In order to return to God, then we need mercy. Because God is just, then we will always be separated from Him – because of our sins.
  4. Mercy cannot rob justice. (Remember, GOD IS JUST!)

If you want to understand the concept of our need for mercy, then I would suggest reading Alma 34 and Alma 42. The basic idea is that we, mortals, are susceptible to the justice of God. If you take that truth – on its own – then our state is pathetic and pitiful. We would be required to pay for every single sin we commit.

Look at us! We are a mess! We lie, we hurt others, and we hurt ourselves. For the sake of a better understanding of why we need mercy, let’s look at a few awesome examples. Let’s say there is a person with the patience ofJob, the charity of Mother Theresa, and the knowledge of Neal A. Maxwell. Where would this person be?

Actually, this is a great example because Job, Mother Theresa, and Neal A. Maxwell are all dead. Not to be rude. It’s just a fact. Though they were marvelous people, they couldn’t fully save themselves. No matter how wonderful we think we are, we can’t navigate this mortal life alone. In fact, mortality is all about death: spiritual and physical death. Because of the fall, we are all susceptible to both modalities of death. And, before the Savior and the Atonement – death -both physical and spiritual – was the ultimate end of each of us.

DEPRESSING.

So. We, humankind, need a way to be forgiven of the sins we commit. We need mercy. When Christ suffered the sins of each person on this earth, he accomplished the most merciful act conceivable.

Though we break commandments and commit sins, Christ, God, came to earth and paid the debts that we racked. Only He could do it. And he did it for us because He loves us. He forgives us. The Atonement was the ultimate act of His forgiveness for our weakness and sin.

Christ’s Atonement – Obtained Mercy

The promise that Christ gives in the beatitude is that the merciful will obtain mercy. However, we have already determined that Christ didn’t need it. Because God is just, and because Christ is perfect, he didn’t need mercy or forgiveness.

Yet He was merciful.

At first, I just thought, “Of course Christ was merciful. He’s a nice guy. He’s perfect.”

But, as I consider the connection between the Atonement and mercy, I’m thinking that it is more than that. In fact, even though Christ didn’t need to obtain mercy for Himself, it was His duty, His purpose, and His foreordained role to obtain mercy…for us.

Had Christ not been merciful, then He would not have performed the Atonement. Had Christ not performed the Atonement, then He would not have obtained mercy. Had Christ not obtained mercy, then He would not have been able to offer it to any of us.

This is what Christ was sent to do. We learn in the Book of Mormon:

“And behold, this is the whole meaning of the law, every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal.

And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.

And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption.” – Alma 34:14-16

Because Christ was merciful, he knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane; He trembled because of pain and bled from every pore. He even asked to get out of this excruciating act. (See Doctrine and Covenants 19:18.) However, His love of God and His mercy for us enabled Him to endure. He descended below all and then obtained mercy for us.

It was Christ’s mercy, then, that enabled Him to obtain mercy.

YAY!

***
How have you experienced the blessing of mercy in your life? What does the Atonement teach you about mercy? What can you do to be more merciful to others?

New Testament Study Companion: Luke

It has been a little over a year since I shared my last two Scripture Study Companions. (Matthew and Mark) Today, I release my third – LUKE!!! (I’m hoping that John, the last installment, will be out next month).

New Testament Study Companion: Luke

New Testament Study Companion: Luke


This book takes you chapter by chapter through Luke with questions and exercises/ideas for in-depth study. You can get this book a few different ways.

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New Testament Study Companion: Luke – free eBook

Click here for the free eBook. This format will work for just about anything. 🙂

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New Testament Study Companion: Luke – free PDF

You can also download it at the website Luke

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New Testament Study Companion: Luke – Kindle Version

Click here for The New Testament Study Companion: Luke available for Kindle.

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New Testament Study Companion: Luke – Print Version

Click here if you are interested in a print version of the book.
You can also choose to have this book printed and sent to you for $3.04. This might be a nice option for people who like to hold things in their hands. It is also most likely less expensive and more durable than printing the eBook yourself.

About the New Testament Study Companion: Luke

This book is designed to help you study the book of Luke. It is like the scripture study series–in that you will read a block of text, and I have included many questions that will help you to ponder the scriptures you read.

Additionally, each chapter includes several exercises that will help you to find patterns, themes, concepts, scripture chains, cross-refernences, etc. These exercises will help you to study each chapter in-depth. I hope that each time you use this study companion, you will be edified and excited about scripture study.

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Okay…so check it out. Let me know what you think. You can also find The Scripture Study Companion for Matthew and Mark. Be on the look-out for John!

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Oh…and HUUUUUUUGE shout out to my very talented friend Stephanie Clawson. She has created the art for all of these scripture study guides. You can check out her blog here. It is both beautiful and inspiring. She truly lives the gospel. She also has an Etsy shop here.

The Atonement: Importance, Opposition, and Protection

The Atonement and Your Personal Relationship with Christ This blog post is part of a series of posts that will explore the Atonement by studying Christ’s life in the New Testament. If you want to find the assignments, you can download my eBooks for Matthew, Mark, (Luke, and John coming soon).

The Atonement and Your Personal Relationship with Christ–Assignment for Matthew 2

” Read Matthew 2. Complete the following questions.

  1. What do you think the relationship is between the wise men’s search for and then worshipping of Christ and the Atonement? What did the wise men already understand about Christ?
  2. What is the relationship of Herod’s edict—to kill all of the children of Israel—and the Atonement? Why was this hatred a necessary part of Christ’s life and mission?
  3. What is the relationship between the protection of Christ by holy messengers and the Atonement? What do we learn about Christ’s power and the importance of His work, even while He was a young baby?

As I think about these questions, I have three main ideas floating somewhere in my brain.

What the Wise Men Teach Us About the Atonement

Shortly after Christ was born, wise men came to see Him. They had come from the east, apprised of Christ’s birth through the sign of the new star that had appeared.

In Matthew 2:2, They ask:

“Where is the child that is born, the Messiah of the Jews? – Matthew 2:2 (JST)

Not only did these wise men knew that Jesus had been born, but they knew why this birth was so important. We don’t know much about the wise men, but they understood that Christ was the Messiah. They, most likely, understood why a Messiah was so important–that the Messiah would perform an Atonement that would save mankind from their sins.

Although I don’t have empirical proof of what, exactly, the wise men knew, it isn’t too hard to assume they understood the role that Christ would have as Savior. We know that many of the ancient prophets understood that Christ would come to the earth, and that He would redeem us. (Examples include: 2 Nephi 2:26, Isaiah 53:3-5, Alma 7:11-12…and there are many more).

The wise men teach us that we, too, can be wise by watching the signs and seeking the Savior. They found Him. Thou he was still a young child, they understood His divine calling, and what it must have meant for them. The Savior still needed to grow into a man, and then actually perform the Atonement, but they were able to go and personally see the Hope of Israel: the Savior of the World. The Atonement wasn’t some secret that was kept until Christ actually performed it. The work of Christ had been taught about and prophesied of since the beginning. We all need Him, the world needed Him and the Atonement He would provide, and, finally, He came.

What Herod Teaches us About the Atonement

When the three wise men went to Jerusalem, seeking the Savior, they found Herod. Even though Herod was a Jew, he wasn’t faithful or knowledgeable of the signs of Christ’s coming birth. In speaking with the wise men, Herod became worried about his own power and position. He told the wise men to return and give him word on the whereabouts of this little boy.

Of course, we know that Christ was protected. Instead of returning to Herod, the wise men left Israel another way. When Herod finally figured out that they wouldn’t be coming back, he released an edict–having all of the children under two years of age in Bethlehem killed.

Honestly, this is disgusting.

But that’s not the point I’m trying to make. We can sit here and wonder why Herod would do something so horrible, but let’s think about this edict in terms of the Atonement. To me, what stands out is that there is opposition.

The Atonement is not something that would just happen easily. The Devil would try time and time again to thwart the efforts of the Savior. He begins long before the Savior can even do anything for himself – when he was still a young toddler!

I think it is also important to remember that Satan will try to do the same to us in our own lives: He will do anything he can to thwart the power and blessings of the Atonement. Sometimes it is hard to remember that we have a real enemy. In other words, it is easy to think that Herod was Christ’s enemy, bu this is not completely the case. Satan was the enemy. Herod was in Satan’s grasp. Undoubtedly, it was the whisperings of an evil spirit that prompted Herod to make such a grievous edict. Satan is also an enemy to us, and just as he influenced Herod, he tries to influence us. Satan will not make the path to the Atonement easy for us.

What God’s Influence Teaches us About the Atonement

Despite the opposition Christ faced, He was protected. An angel of the Lord, in a dream, warned Joseph that they should flee–taking the Christ-child to Egypt. Joseph was apprised of Herod’s motive to destroy the Savior. They left in the night.

This also teaches us about the Atonement. It is important. It is God’s will. And God’s will will prevail. God always protected Jesus and enabled Him to be able to perform this great work. It is still Christ that atoned, but Heavenly Father helped to ensure that it would have the chance to happen (should Christ choose). The Devil, though he tried hard, didn’t have the power to overthrow the will of God.

I think that this is true in our own lives, too. God wants us to succeed. He wants us to be redeemed and return to Him. If we always choose to follow His will, then this is what will happen for us. Even when the Devil tries hard to thwart our best efforts, we will not be overpowered if we stay close to the Lord and choose to be empowered by the Atonement that He has performed for each of us.

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What have you learned about the Atonement in Matthew 2? How does it strengthen your faith in the Atonement and your relationship with the Savior?

The Atonement and Your Personal Relationship with Christ

Last year, our newly called General Relief Society President gave a talk at the Relief Society Broadcast titled, Is Faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ Written in our Hearts? During Sister Burton’s talk, she gave three principles of the Atonement that would help us increase faith in Jesus Christ. The three principles included:

One: All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Two: There is power in the Atonement to enable us to overcome the natural man or woman and become true disciples of Jesus Christ.
Three: The Atonement is the greatest evidence we have of the Father’s love for His children.

When I listened to the talk, I felt an immediate rush of gratitude and love for this new Relief Society President. Personally, I loved Sister Beck (Sister Burton’s predecessor), and I couldn’t really imagine loving another Relief Society President so much. But she gave this powerful talk which confirmed to me that she was the new General Relief Society President–called by God. I was grateful for both the witness and the talk she gave. It was just what I needed. (Isn’t that always the way?!)

After the conference, I talked to a friend about the Atonement. She suggested I do a “scripture study series” on the Atonement. I laughed it off…I mean all of the scriptures are about the Atonement. The task seemed impossible! Even though I knew I couldn’t do a scripture study series on the Atonement, I also knew that there was something I should work on…

A friend of mine -who is a Relief Society President – sent me an email shortly after the Relief Society Broadcast. I will share a part of it with you here, (I hope that she doesn’t mind!)

“Did you just love the RS meeting Saturday night? I thought it was amazing and realized I need to strengthen my testimony in the areas Sister Burton talked about. The question I went away with was about the first principle of the Atonement she spoke of, that all that is unfair about life can and will be made right through the Atonement. Can that be true during this life or is it meant to be looked at in an eternal perspective? I have complete faith that it will be taken care of after this life. I’m not there for this life though and sometimes it makes me feel unfaithful. I see so much trouble and pain in my calling as I work with the sisters in our ward, that I can’t see how it can be solved in this life. It would take a miracle. And then I think well, that’s what I should have faith in, that she (the generic, composite she) will let God make a miracle in their life, that she will follow gospel principles, that she will get her act together through the power of Jesus Christ. But the odds are not in her favor at all. Drug use, bad choices, ignorance, a lifetime of bad habits, mental illness etc. It is all stacked against her. I have faith that the atonement can fix those things, but there’s so much personal participation required, I guess that’s where the disconnect lies. Any thoughts?

I saw Sister Burton’s talk as a personal challenge; not just to strengthen others testimony of those principles, but really work on my own.”

When I read this email, especially this part, it galvanized what I was feeling as I watched the talk Sister Burton gave. It gave me even more insight. I know that in a way, I trust that the Atonement is powerful. Yet I reassessed my faith. Do I have faith–even of a mustard seed? What do I really know about the Atonement. Do I truly understand and even trust the three principles that Sister Burton gave? How can I strengthen my faith and testimony–not only of Christ–but of His infinite Atonement?

At about the same time, I had started on a project–creating a Scripture Study Companion of the New Testament. While working on this, it hit me. As a part of the scripture study companion, I would create exercises for each chapter of the New Testament that included an in-depth study of the Atonement. I had this feeling (and I still do) that everything in Christ’s life can teach us about the Atonement…sometimes it takes a little probing, but we can learn more.

The point of all of this is to invite you to also complete this course of Study: The Atonement and Your Personal Relationship with Christ.

The Atonement and Your Personal Relationship with Christ

The Atonement and Your Personal Relationship with Christ


You can find the assignments in each chapter of the Scripture Study Companions that I’ve published. They can be downloaded for free and are available in various formats.
Click here to download the New Testament Study Companion: Matthew
Click here to download the New Testament Study Companion: Mark

Luke and John will be coming soon.

I will be writing a couple of times a week here on my blog–about my own study experiences. I will include the exercise/assignment. And my own thoughts. I’d love it if you studied and also shared your own insights. I’m hoping that we can follow Sister Burton’s charge to better understand the Atonement and have this knowledge written on our hearts so our faith and love in Christ can be strengthened and we can be strengthened as we navigate the trials of our lives.

Do Mormons regard the Bible as Holy Scripture and the word of God?

The short answer: Yes!

Mormons believe the Bible to be the Word of God – as far as it is translated correctly. (See Articles of Faith 1:8.)

My Scriptures

My Scriptures

I know that the Bible is the word of God.

Here are a few experiences I have had – that have helped me to know that the Bible is Holy Scripture.

The Bible and Understanding My Identity as a Woman

When I was in college, I took several Women’s Studies courses. Women’s Studies was a relatively new department. As I was nearing my graduation, I found that I nearly had enough credits to qualify for the Women’s Studies Minor, but I had taken an “upside-down” approach – taking many upper-divisional classes without having taken the low-level prerequisite classes. In order to receive credit for the Minor in Women’s Studies, I’d have to take two basic courses.

So, I took the First Women’s Studies basic course. I can’t remember the course title. But I can remember the way that it made me feel – as a woman, human. As the class progressed, I would feel challenged, confused, and ultimately frustrated. Sure, some of the ideas that my professors proposed seemed to be grounded in some kind of truth, but day after day, I came away from the class feeling dissatisfied at the idea of feminism and the worldly notion of what womanhood is.

Directly after class, I’d walk out of the room, feeling confused, and I’d walk across the street into the Ogden Institute of Religion. I was taking an Old Testament class. There, we began the semester studying Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. After leaving my women’s studies class, where I was taught, motherhood, by nature was oppressive, I was able to learn that Eve was the Mother of All Living – an elevated calling. I learned that, yes, bearing children was cursed, but it was done for her sake – not for her oppression. There is a great beauty and blessing in the challenge of motherhood. Not all of our blessings are easy. We have to learn to find the blessing in trials, too.

I would walk out of my women’s studies class feeling confused about women’s roles in family and society, then I’d walk across the street and learn about Sariah. Not only was Abraham a Patriarch, but Sariah was his companion.

In my Women’s Studies class, I was taught that patriarchy is oppressive, and that many religions exploit the notion that God is a man – to somehow imply that woman is less than man. Then I’d walk across the street, to my Old Testament Class, where I would study Rebekah – A righteous mother in Israel who was prompted that the birthright blessing should go to Jacob; or Deborah – the prophetess of Israel, Judge, Counselor, and Warrior.

I’d go from “Women’s Studies” which seemed to make me feel crushed and depressed about being a woman over to the institute where I’d study an ancient text (not exactly known for being “woman friendly”) and learn about the kind of woman I am and want to be.

It was the Bible who helped me to understand that I am not only a child of God, but a Daughter of God, and that there is power in this. That I’m loved and cherished by my Father. And that though I must go through some burdens in the flesh, and though men haven’t always been as kind to women as they should be, these actions didn’t reflect God’s esteem of me or any of His daughters.

The Bible and Understanding that Jesus is My Savior and Redeemer

My favorite scripture is contained in the words of the Bible, and recorded by Isaiah:

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:3-5

When I think of my own love and dedication to the Savior, I often want to include this scripture. It is so powerful. He was despised, but this didn’t prevent His love for us. Instead, he has experienced what we experienced. He has overcome temptation, sickness, sin, and death. Because He has descended below all things, we have the opportunity to be healed.

I think that I love this scripture so much because of the concept of healing. That is what I need in my life: I need to be healed from the pains caused by others, or by my own sins, or even my simple nature. Christ offers this healing, and no where else in the scriptures is it more beautifully or powerfully expressed than by Isaiah in the Bible.

Through the Bible, I know I can Rely on Christ

Another scripture that has sustained me through hard times has been from the Bible:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

It is so easy to forget that Christ will give us peace and rest. It is easy to forget that we can come unto Him, and put His yoke upon us – which will help us to bear up our burdens. Yet He pleads with us to remember and to come unto Him.

I love this scripture. Christ loves us. We can feel His love through the power of the Word of God – in the Bible.

So many more examples

There are so many more examples I could give of personal experiences I have had with the Holy Bible. Because of the Bible:

  • I know that the Lord is my Master and that I have no need to fear even the most troubled “waters”
  • I want to be like Mary Magdalene, who knew the voice of Her Master when he was Resurrected and appeared to her in the Garden
  • I have been saved from horrible situations and guided to a better path.

I know that the Bible is the Word of God. I know that it teaches and testifies of Christ. I know that through the Bible we can infuse our lives with the Spirit. We can receive direction, comfort, and strength. I love the scriptures, and I love the Holy Bible. I’m so grateful to live in a time when it is easily accessible.

Find out more of what Mormons believe about the Bible being the word of God here.

Find the King James Version of the Bible online here.

What are your experiences with the Bible – that have helped you to know it is truly the word of God?

The Mission of Jesus Christ – A List (Luke 4:18-19)

A good way to understand more about the Jesus Christ is to understand His mission, or purpose in coming to the earth. Long before Christ came to the earth, the Prophets of the Old Testament had prophesied of a Messiah who would come to the earth and dwell in the flesh.

A cool picture that has nothing to do with this post.

Of course, Christ, as Jehovah, gave these prophecies to the Old Testament Prophets. Christ, also raised in a faithful Jewish home, was taught the scriptures. Eventually, when He began His ministry, He announced Himself to the Jews by quoting Isaiah 61:1-2. As recorded in Luke, Christ reads:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” – Luke 4:18-19

In these two verses we have a fun little List. We can mark and study it to learn more about Christ’s Mission.

List: Christ’s Mission

  1. Preach the Gospel to the Poor – As I read this point, I’m instantly reminded of the Beatitudes when Christ teaches: “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” (Matthew 5:3). I wonder if there is a connection here between the poor – as mentioned in the scripture in Luke and the poor in spirit who will inherit the kingdom of God. In the footnotes to Matthew 5:3, we learn that “Poor in Spirit” is an Idiomatic Expression that means “Poor in pride; or humble in Spirit.”.

    This makes a lot of sense. The Lord preaches the gospel to those who will allow themselves to be taught. If we are humble, then we can receive divine instruction from Christ.

    Oh – and I think that we should take this a step further: what is the gospel? It is the “good news of Christ”. It is the fact that He will help us to overcome the effects of the fall – both death and sin. We cannot truly learn the gospel if we aren’t willing to be humble. Humility is necessary – on our parts – in that we must admit that we natural men and women are weak and need a Savior.

  2. Heal the broken-hearted – at first glance, I thought that this meant that Chris will comfort us when we are feeling “broken-hearted” or sad. And that is true. Christ does comfort us. He heals us.

    Yet, upon further reflection, I was reminded of the sacrifice we have been commanded to give: “And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit,” (3 Nephi 9:20). This makes me realize that I have a little bit of responsibility in being Healed by Christ, and that “broken-hearted” may be more of a heart condition we choose rather than suffer from. (or maybe a little bit of both, sometimes.)

    In any case, when we come to the Lord, with a broken heart, then He will heal us.

  3. Preach deliverance to the Captives – We are all captive. We are captives to the conditions of mortality, we are captive to the consequences of Sin. Christ can deliver us. He teaches us how to be delivered, by choosing to accept His atoning power.

    I suppose that this also means a little bit more, too (as usual). When I think of Christ Preaching Deliverance to the Captives, my mind recalls those spirits that the Lord visited when he was in the grave for three days. Through modern revelation, we learn:

    “While this vast multitude waited and conversed, rejoicing in the hour of their deliverance from the chains of death, the Son of God appeared, declaring liberty to the captives who had been faithful;

    19 And there he preached to them the everlasting gospel, the doctrine of the resurrection and the redemption of mankind from the fall, and from individual sins on conditions of repentance.” – Doctrine and Covenants 138:18-19

    Christ preached deliverance to those who were captive to death. This is a pretty dramatic example, but it is Christ’s ultimate purpose – to deliver us from death and hell. We can receive deliverance when we do as He has taught – have faith, repent, and be baptized. There is no other way.

  4. Recovering the Sight to the Blind – So, this has to be one of my favorite types of miracles that the Savior performs during His ministry on the earth. So often, we see accounts of Him helping the blind to see.

    So, I’ve thought about this. Over the years, I have developed a need for glasses. I have to wear them all the time. I need them. Then there are people like my husband. I realize that if he had been born in the Savior’s time, he would have been considered a “Blind” person. He has been wearing glasses since he was a young child. He can’t really see anything unless he is wearing his glasses. It is strange to think that Homey, the man who supports our family so well, he is so intelligent and disciplined, would have probably been a beggar, bound by his lack of good eyesight during the time of Christ.

    Of course this is also a spiritual teaching. Christ restores our spiritual sight. Just as words will disappear from a chalkboard when I remove my contact lenses, items that are spiritually discerned will disappear when we remove the Lens of the Spirit – that comes through Christ.

  5. Liberate the Bruised – So…I have to admit, this one seems a little strange to me – at first. I am wondering what, exactly, is meant by bruised? So…thinking back on the word bruised in the scriptures, I’m reminded of the cursing of Satan – after Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil:

    “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” – Genesis 3:15

    Here we learn about two “bruisings”… – (1) The seed of the woman is bruised. (thou shalt bruise his heel). We are all “bruised” through the fall and death. Even Christ had to succumb to this reality (of course, he did it voluntarily). Christ was bruised – in the proverbial heel. And we are all “bruised” in that we must suffer death and the effects of the fall. Satan’s influence can be felt by us.

    But that’s not all. (2) Christ – with the very heel that was bruised, bruises (or CRUSHES) the head of the Serpent. Christ did crush death – through His resurrection. If we go to Christ, then the devil has no power over us – we are bruised, yet can be liberated…This is what Christ came here to do.

  6. Preach the Acceptable Year of the Lord – I have to admit, I’m still not sure what this means. I think that I will have to do some more searching. So far, it seems to be about Judgment – and Christ’s role in it. hmm….what do you think?

I hope you have enjoyed studying this list. I love learning more about the Savior. I find that studying everything about Him – His life, ministry, teachings, and mission – help me to understand more about my relationship with Him and the role the atonement has in my life. How does this list help you to understand more about the Savior? What point resonates with you? Why?

If you wish to learn more about Christ, then click here.

Also, you can check out more helpful scripture study tips in my free eBook.

Do Mormons Regard the Bible as Holy Scripture and the Word of God?

I am always happy to answer this question…YES! We do regard the Bible as Holy Scripture. We believe it is the word of God!

In fact, not only do Mormons believe the Bible is Holy Scripture, but we Love it. Well, I do anyways. I love the law, the poetry, and the prophecies of the Old Testament. I love the account of Christ’s life, the Pauline Epistles, and Revelation of the New Testament. I love to read the covenants and commandments of the Lord. I love to read about His promised blessings.

I love this quote at mormon.org –
“We see it as a powerful, important, and sacred holy record which serves as the bedrock of all Christianity.” (Mormon.org)

Mormons DO believe the Bible is the word of God. I have had various experiences with the Bible and will share a few.

Powerful
The Bible has made a powerful impact in my life. Several years ago, I was experiencing some strain in my marriage. I had felt the Holy Ghost prompting me, but it was unfamiliar because the feeling I had was that of frustration and disappointment rather than warmth. I went to my scriptures and read:

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” – Galatians 5:1

This scripture came to me with more power than any scripture I had read. It moved me to action. It helped me to realize what I needed to do in my marriage. And even though that marriage ended in divorce, this scripture has remained powerful to me – reminding me that I needed to make sure I was never yoked to sin again.

Important
The Bible is so important because in it we learn the covenants that God makes with man. We also learn the commandments. To me, this is one of the most important scripture passages:

ҦBut when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.

Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,

Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” – Matthew 22:33-40

Christ taught us the law as Jehovah in the Old Testament. He taught the Higher law as the promised Messiah in the New Testament. Even though the commandments aren’t always easy to keep, they are simple: Love God and love one another. The Bible teaches us this through the meek words of the Savior, Himself.

Sacred and Holy
Of course, the entire nature of the Bible is sacred and holy. In my mind, the most sacred and holy scriptures are recorded by Isaiah:

“For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

¶Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:2-5

This scripture teaches us about Christ. He isn’t ostentatious; he is simple. Yet, he performed the most important, loving, and essential act in our History: He bore our griefs, carried our sorrows, was wounded for our transgressions, was bruised for our iniquities, and was chastised for our peace: He preformed the atonement. This is one of my top favorite scriptures.

Oh – and if you don’t really feel moved by it through reading the scripture, just listen to Handel’s interpretation of Isaiah’s words…

I have a testimony that the Bible is the true word of God. I have read it. I have prayed about it. I have been inspired, taught, and comforted by the Bible.

If you would like to know more about what Mormons believe and the Bible, you can click here.

How do you you feel about the Bible? How has the Bible inspired you in life? Do you have a testimony that it is the Word of God?

The Book of Mormon: Establishing the Truth of the Bible

I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. I love learning about it. I love reading the Bible, and I love thinking about the doctrines taught by our Savior.

One thing about the Bible, it often leaves me fuzzy. Sometimes the doctrines that are mentioned seem elusive – difficult to understand.

I see why there are so many opinions on what the Bible teaches. It is no surprise to me that there are hundreds of religions that stem from a belief in the bible. We know that the bible went through many translations. Even the Lord knew that this would happen, and he explained to Nephi:

“And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away.” – 1 Nephi 13:26

So, it begs the question, What is true? What is the gospel? Which doctrines are true and essential for our salvation? How do we make and keep covenants? Where is authority?

And here is where my love for the Book of Mormon steps in. The Book of Mormon helps to clear up the fuzziness.

“And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved.” – 1 Nephi 13:40

The Book of Mormon does not compete with the Bible. Instead, it establishes the truth of the Bible. Isn’t that amazing! Because of the Book of Mormon, all scripture is relevant. Without the scripture, we are left, to stumble because we don’t have the whole picture. The Bible is missing pieces. How can we be whole, or perfect, if we don’t have all of the instructions?

The Lord knew this would be a problem:

“…after the Gentiles do stumble exceedingly, because of the most plain and precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, which is the mother of harlots, saith the Lamb—I will be merciful unto the Gentiles in that day, insomuch that I will bring forth unto them, in mine own power, much of my gospel, which shall be plain and precious, saith the Lamb.

For, behold, saith the Lamb: I will manifest myself unto thy seed, that they shall write many things which I shall minister unto them, which shall be plain and precious; and after thy seed shall be destroyed, and dwindle in unbelief, and also the seed of thy brethren, behold, these things shall be hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles, by the gift and power of the Lamb.

And in them shall be written my gospel, saith the Lamb, and my rock and my salvation.” –1 Nephi 13:34-36

We have the Book of Mormon today. We have the Lord’s record. We have His gospel, his rock, and salvation. We don’t have to stumble on the fuzzy concepts taught in the Bible. Instead, the Book of Mormon enlightens our minds and brings even more beauty and clarity to the words of the Bible.

Plain and Precious Parts of the gospel
Thanks to the Book of Mormon, I have been able to better understand:

There are so many other doctrines that I keep thinking of – including prayer, how to baptize, government, service, and the connection of faith, hope, and charity.

Each of these principles and ordinances can be found in the Bible, but most of them are relatively enigmatic. The Book of Mormon uses plain and simple terms to help us understand true gospel concepts. And, as we learn these things, the Bible becomes more beautiful, informative, and helpful to our lives.

I’m grateful that the Lord has blessed us with a way to access His love and mysteries. We can come to know Him and his true teachings as we study the Book of Mormon and Bible together. I have a testimony of the Book of Mormon. I know that it is the word of God. I know that it will help us to understand His mysteries. As we seek His word – in both the Book of Mormon and the Bible, He will enlighten our minds. He bless us with power and vision. We will be happier people. We will understand our Heavenly Father and Savior more and live lives worthy of the best blessings that He wants to give us. When we read the Book of Mormon, we open ourselves to divine tutelage. The Lord will correct us and direct us in a kind way. Our understanding of the Bible increases, and we can develop a true friendship with our Savior.

***
Do you have a difficult time understanding the concepts and principles of the Bible? Which ones seem fuzzy to you? Do you think that you are open to having greater understanding of the truthfulness of the Bible by accepting the help that comes from the Lord through the Book of Mormon? If so, comment here and we can have a discussion.

Or you can also find the Book of Mormon online – with many handy study tools. You can also get a free copy of the Book of Mormon.

Finally, check out some other great blog posts on the Book of Mormon at Jocelyn’s Book of Mormon Blog Hop

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