"For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light..."
September 14, 2007

What’s In a Name?

Anciently, when one made a covenant, one received a new name. In Isaiah 43:1 God states not only “I have redeemed thee” but also “I have called thee by a new name.” This association between covenants and new names exists today, even in temporal matters. When a professional athlete signs a contract with a new team, he takes on the name of that team. When a person receives all the appropriate medical training, he takes the Hippocratic oath (a kind of covenant) and takes on the new name of doctor. Most commonly, when a man and a woman marry, the bride traditionally takes on the name of her husband. When we enter into Christ’s church by covenant, we receive the name of Christ. “In ancient times, a name was more than an identifying label. Your name was your essence, what you were all about, your identity rather than just your identification” (Harold S. Kushner as cited by Dallin H. Oaks, His Holy Name, pg. 46). Thus, to take on Christ’s name is both a privilege and an obligation. It requires us to also take on his identity, his way of being, and his mission of saving souls. The only way to accomplish this formidable task is through the covenant itself. With this covenant comes the gift of the Holy Ghost, which purifies our nature, reshapes our hearts, and fills us with the desire to live higher and holier lives. Gradually everyone that is called by his name is created, or recreated, for his glory (Isaiah 43:7). This is the whole essence of our covenants. They have been given by a loving God to strengthen our commitment and to keep us on track. They are to lift and to bless, to ennoble and to purify, and ultimately to help us become what he is and receive all that he has. Such is our privilege as a covenant people. (Amy Blake Hardison, Being a Covenant People, Covenants, Prophecies and Hymns of the Old Testament, pg. 31-32)

September 12, 2007

Meaningful Experience

What did Adam and Eve know after they returned to God’s presence that they hadn’t known when they were originally with him in the Garden?  What can we know after our own return to God that we didn’t know in our premortal life? The scriptures explain that God expected and desired that Adam and Eve’s children would have the same kind of mortal experiences as their first parents had, which suggests that the redemption of Adam and Eve was not just a convenient way to erase the effect of an unfortunate error.  Rather, it was an intentional element in a course of instruction designed by God himself for their preparation, if they freely chose to accept it.  Without that course of instruction, they would not have developed the capacity to live a meaningful celestial life.  So it is with our experience as their children: Mortality is not mere estrangement from God — it is the crucible through which the possibility of truly meaningful life becomes real.  (Bruce C. Hafen, The Broken Heart, pg. 39)

September 9, 2007

Christ Alone

How the Atonement was wrought, we do not know. No mortal watched as evil turned away and hid in shame before the light of that pure being. (Boyd K. Packer, Ensign, May 1988, pg. 69)

Deeper

Despite this remarkable truth about the Book of Mormon [containing the most profound theological treatment of the Atonement], we Latter-day Saints are, for the most part, only superficially acquainted with our own doctrines of grace, mercy, justice, and the Atonement….each of us needs to take the Atonement more fully into the deep parts of our consciousness…. (Bruce C. Hafen, The Broken Heart, pg. 3, 5)

Balm

….emphasizing God’s mercy may lead some to believe they are entitled to divine divine protection against all of life’s natural adversities. There is already enough theological difficulty for those who believe that their activity in the Church should somehow protect them from tragedy and sorrow. Our understanding of the Atonement is hardly a shield against sorrow; rather, it is a rich source of strength to deal productively with the disappointments and heartbreaks that form the deliberate fabric of mortal life. The gospel was given to us to heal our pain, not to prevent it. (Bruce C. Hafen, The Broken Heart, pg. 5)

August 25, 2007

Behave yourself!

Fine feelings, new insights, greater interest in religion mean nothing unless they make our actual behavior better…. (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

August 18, 2007

Oops!

When we Christians behave badly, or fail to obey well, we are making Christianity unbelievable to the outside world.  (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

September 20, 2006

The Bitter Cup

Pastor/teacher John MacArthur, in writing of the “bitter cup” Jesus was called upon to imbibe, observed: “Never was so much sorrow emanating from the soul of one individual. We could never comprehend the depth of Christ’s agony because, frankly, we cannot perceive the wickedness of sin as He could. Nor can we appreciate the terrors of divine wrath the way He did.” Further, he asked: “What is the cup? It is not merely death. It is not the physical pain of the cross. It was not the scourging or the humiliation. It was not the horrible thirst, the torture of having nails driven through His body, or the disgrace of being spat upon or beaten, It was not even all of those things combined.” Rather, MacArthur adds, “what Christ dreaded most about the cross — the cup from which He asked to be delivered if possible — was the outpouring of divine wrath He would have to endure from His holy Father….In some mysterious way that our human minds could never fathom, God the Father would turn His face from Christ the Son, and Christ the Son, and Christ would bear the full brunt of the divine fury against sin….In other words, on the cross, God imputed our sin to Christ and then punished Him for it.” (Joyn MacArthur, The Murder of Jesus, h. 63-71) — Robert L. Millet, A Different Jesus?, p. 91

September 18, 2006

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Seeing that the Lord has never given the world to understand by anything heretofore revealed that he has ceased forever to speak to his creatures when sought unto in a proper manner, why should it be thought a thing incredible that he should be pleased to speak again in these last days for their salvation? Perhaps you may be surprised at this assertion that I should say ‘for the salvation of his creatures in these last days’ since we have already in our possession a vast volume of his word [the Bible] which he has previously given. But you will admit that the word spoken to Noah was not sufficient for Abraham…Isaac, the promised seed, was not required to rest his hope upon the promises made to his father Abraham, but was privileged with the assurance of [God’s] approbation in the sight of heaven by the direct voice of the Lord to him…I have no doubt but that the holy prophets and apostles in the ancient days were saved in the kingdom of God…I may believe that Enoch walked with God. I may believe that Abraham communed with God and conversed with angels…And have I not an equal privilege with the ancient saints? And will not the Lord hear my prayers, and listen to my cries as soon [as] he ever did to theirs, if I come to him in the manner they did? Or is he a respecter of persons? — Joseph Smith Jr, Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, rev. ed.. ed. Dean C. Jessee, p. 321-324, spelling and puncnuation corrected

September 14, 2006

Your God Is Too Small

…many otherwise honest and intellectual people will construct a neat by-pass around the claim of Jesus to be God.  Being people of insight and imagination, they know perfectly well that once to accept such a claim as fact would mean a readjustment of their own purposes and values and affections which they may have no wish to make.  To call Jesus the greatest Figure in History or the finest Moral Teacher the world has ever seen commits no one to anything.  But once to allow the startled mind to accept as fact that this man is really focused-God may commit anyone to anything!  There is every excuse for blundering in the dark, but in the light there is no cover from reality.  — J.B. Phillips, Your God Is Too Small, p 83