Wednesday, August 23, 2017

How to Accept God’s Grace

The notion common to most Christians is that you accept God’s grace by declaring your belief in Him. This comes from Romans 10:9 which says, “That 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.” (KJV)

My understanding of grace is that it is applied by a loving God universally to his children in the form of a full restitution of the physical body after death, a full restitution of broken hearts and (conditional upon repentance) a full restitution of sin.

I believe that in order to accept God’s grace I have to do more than say “I do” but I have to “do what I say.”

What you send out will come back to you

Monday, August 21, 2017

Divine Mentoring

“I remember once a seven- or eight-year-old son of ours jumping on his bed hard enough that I thought it might break. I felt a flash of frustration, and I moved quickly to set my house in order. I grabbed my son by his little shoulders and lifted him up to where our eyes met.

“The Spirit put words into my mind. It seemed a quiet voice, but it pierced to my heart: “You are holding a great person.” I gently set him back on the bed and apologized.

“Now he has become the great man the Holy Ghost let me see 40 years ago. I am eternally grateful that the Lord rescued me from my unkind feelings by sending the Holy Ghost to let me see a child of God as He saw him.” (Source: Eyring, “My Peace I Leave with You.”)

In this story, the Holy Ghost mentored a father in the very moment when he was about to discipline his child, showing him the great worth of the child in God’s eyes. The Holy Ghost is the vehicle by which God offers us divine mentoring in our life.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Author of Salvation

Jesus Christ introduced the sacrament of bread and wine/water at the Last Supper in preparation for his great atoning gift to the world.

In the sacrament he gave two great symbolic elements, bread and water, to help the people understand his gift. The bread was likely unleavened because the Last Supper was a Passover meal. Because unleavened bread does not have yeast, it has less moisture and is less prone to decay. The bread represented the purity of Christ’s body and the incorruptibility of his gift.
The Israelites ate manna in the wilderness with Moses. The manna was a gift from God at a time when other food was not available. This taught them to depend physically on God before introducing the idea of relying spiritually on God. When Christ came he expanded the metaphor of manna when he said, “This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.” (John 6:58) Christ was the bread from heaven. He was the epitome of the symbol from the Old Testament.

The sacrament at the Last Supper used wine but water has been used interchangeably for this symbol. Christ declared, “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:14) The water is a symbol of the blood which Christ was about to give in his atoning gift to the world.

Christ was the lamb of God. His death was a fulfillment of a symbolic ritual of animal sacrifice in the Old Testament where a lamb was sacrificed for the sins of the people. (see 1 Pet 1:18-19) “In Leviticus the sacrificial offerings for sin fall into two categories, those designed to atone for unintentional transgressions and those that atoned for willful sins.” (Stephen Ricks, Source) Under the law of Moses unintentional sins were paid for by the transgressor himself. Willful sins cannot be redeemed by the transgressor and require an intercessor. Intercession by Christ on our behalf is necessary because no unclean thing can dwell with God and all of us are unclean due to our intentional sinning. 

While observing the Mosaic law of sacrifice, as we understand now from Christ’s own teachings, was not fully effective in perfecting the people.  It was part of the author’s plan to show his people where to look for their salvation. Jesus Christ, the author of salvation, uses imagery, symbolism and poetic words to explain his great gift. The gift of salvation has much deeper levels of meaning which are understood after we participate in and ponder the physical representations of bread and water, lambs and sacrifice, the cross and the garden.

In the garden and on the cross, Jesus Christ experienced personally and individually every pain and sorrow from every sin committed and all it’s repercussion for each and every person who has lived on earth before and after his life on earth. Peter thought Jesus should flee the evil men who wanted to kill him. Jesus knew that the pain was necessary. He said to his Father, “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.” (Matt 26:42) He showed perfect submission to the will of God in the way that we all must submit both to God’s laws and to his punishments. During this time of intercession, the pain caused Jesus Christ to sweat drops of blood from every pore. (Luke 22:44) The blood sanctified us his people.
If we are sanctified by his blood, why must we appeal to him via repentance to have mercy on us? Jesus Christ became the one to hold the key of salvation because he broke the confining bands of death and sin. Only through him can we be saved. This means that he sets the terms and conditions of the salvation that he offers. 

Because Christ is the author of the terms and conditions, we have no right to demand his grace. As we submit to his authority and guidance, we begin to understand what our role is in turning away from sin and what his role is in finishing our faith. The first condition of salvation is baptism by an authorized servant of God. John the apostle taught, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5) Being born of water is baptism. Being born of the Spirit is a process of sanctification that must occur during this mortal life through the obedience and direction of God’s emissary, the Holy Spirit. The remaining terms and conditions are spelled out in scripture and in the divine tutelage that the Spirit gives. 

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