Sunday, March 25, 2012

On the Higher Law

    The first law of heaven is perfect obedience, wherein we sacrifice our agency to choose evil and filthiness. If this is the case what could we possibly sacrifice more than our agency? What greater or higher law could possibly exist than to eliminate all evil?

    To understand this this we need to look at what the first law implies. Firstly this law is not just the law of obedience but also the law of Justice, Judgment and Truth. It condemns the wicked and protects the innocent. The law that separates the filthy from the clean in and of itself doesn't have the power to cleanse; for “the strength of sin” is this absolute, unbending, and remorseless law.

    Because of this “no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off.” We are all sinners and have the need to be saved; and yet with only the first law in place, “there [is] no means to reclaim men from this fallen state, which man [has] brought upon himself because of his own disobedience”.

    This first law was taught to men by means of the Law of Moses. It was not only a law of performances and ordinances, but it strictly defined the differences between the clean and unclean, the holy and the mundane. It taught the children of Israel the how awful filthiness was, by showing direct consequences to them. However we know “that salvation doth not come by the law alone”.

    Obviously this first law is insufficient, as it only serves to act as an insurmountable barrier to those that desire to enter Heaven. “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”. This is where a higher law of heaven comes into play, aka the law of the gospel or the law of mercy.

    The details as to what the gospel is and how the atonement works were spelled out in a previous post, and so I won't cover that here. However I will say that it is not something we have earned or deserve; it is a glorious gift that He gives to us in his bounteous love and mercy; that is the key. We don't have to earn it, for we cannot.

    So how do we accept this higher law of mercy? If we cannot earn or pay for it, then what do we sacrifice, and why do we do so? Obviously if this higher law of mercy were simply given without restriction, there would be no difference between the Kingdoms, for why would any reject mercy, if there is no price to pay? Would one willingly suffer hell, if there were no need to do so? Of course not.

    This then raises the question, how does this law of mercy and good news separate the Telestial and Terrestrial? We know that the first law differentiates between the clean and the unclean, so by what mechanism can we provide a deeper look into our soul? The answer quite simply is that the difference boils down to a question of innocence.

    The higher law divides us into the just and the unjust which identifies us by the method of our cleansing; either on the one hand by our paying for our sins via the law of justice, or on the other hand by our relying upon Christ, where He pays in our stead via the higher law of mercy absolving us of our sins, by which we “[become] again, in [our] infant state, innocent before God”.

    This justification is not given without restriction, rather it is only given to those that fulfill the conditions by which mercy may operate. One cannot take advantage of His mercy, for it comes only upon those that are willing to give up that pride and arrogance that distinguishes their identity and individuality, for we must “not put [our] trust in the arm of flesh”.

    What He requires is that we take upon us His name, by which we become His children. In order to do so we must acknowledge our weakness, imperfection, incompleteness, incompetence, unworthiness, and foolishness before Him, and beg of Him that He will save us, bowing our heads down to the earth in utter humility; for “whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted

    And again it says “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

    This is the innocence and humility required of us to accept this higher law. We need to admit that we can't do it alone, and we need Him from the depth of our souls, not just want Him in a superficial manner. Without his life giving light we are doomed to wander in the darkness forever without a glimmer of hope. It is that desire for light that must drive us so that we can come unto Him.

    “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ;

    By throwing away even our independence and individuality, our pride and arrogance, He is finally able to give us a true individuality, independent, glorious, whole and perfect. Remember that for every sacrifice that is demanded, a greater gift is given beyond our wildest imaginations. This great gift of justification and perfection is the covenantal blessing that can only be given to the meek.

    In this our broken and ungodly state, we cannot know what the word perfect even means, for in this filthy world we are separated from Him so exceedingly so as to not be able to even comprehend what it means to be clean, let alone perfect. And while we cannot know what it is, we can catch even the smallest glimpse of cleanliness and perfection in the truths and light that He shines downs upon us.

    It is only those that are “meek and lowly of heart” that are raised up beyond the highest ambitions of man. This reliance upon Him is the faith that is necessary for us, which faith is the first step in following the law of the gospel. It is this trust in Him that allows us to relinquish our desires for the things of this world to buoy us. Our value is not dependent upon man and the glory of this world, but we can only know that if we believe Him.

    We all know that the first principles and ordinances of the fullness of the gospel are faith, repentance, baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. As I wrote before about the relationship between repentance and baptism to the preparatory gospel and its place in the First law, we now need to focus on the remaining principles, which are Faith and the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    I will cover Faith more extensively in another post, but it sufficeth me to say that the faith that is necessary is the relationship that we have with Him, our trust, loyalty, and belief in Him. This is what leads us to satisfy the conditions necessary to complete and fulfill the promise that we make when we receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

    The Law of the gospel, or in other words the Law of mercy and good news is officiated to us through the ordinance of the baptism of fire; for “by the Spirit ye are justified”. So what exactly does this fire represent?

    We read in Malachi “for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

    This fire burns away any impurities, and thus leaves only the precious metal behind, pure, clean, whole, and perfect. It is the divine fire of God, for He dwells in the “everlasting burnings.” Those that enter any of His kingdoms must be burned, either by Divine fire, or by the fire and brimstone of hell. This is why it says “then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.

    Again Amulek taught “I desire that ye … contend no more against the Holy Ghost, but that ye receive it, and take upon you the name of Christ; that ye humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you.

    Only through this humbling of ourselves “even to the dust” can we find ourselves; for the Lord has stated “And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost.

    Herein lies the difference between the ordinance of the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the reception of it where we are finally baptized by fire. When we have the gift given to us, it commands us to receive the Holy Ghost, it is something we must seek to accomplish.

    Simply sitting around and waiting, remaining ever dependent upon the world and Babylon will not make it happen. We are commanded to actively partake of it, bowing our heads, begging before Him that we may be baptized in the purifying fire that He promises to all those that have followed Him “with full purpose of heart”.

    This utter abasement is the great hurdle that those that have given themselves to the natural man cannot overcome. “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

    So it is that the natural man are those that refuse to bow to Him, and are ultimately humbled through death, forever being marked as sinners, never coming close to perfection, being enslaved to their weakness and incompetence forever, which is their eternal covenantal curse.

    Thus it is that the same irony that was present for the Perditious, manifests itself yet again upon the unjust, the Telestial. They who desire independence above all, are the very ones that are forever dependent upon others due to their own incompetence and imperfection. They are reliant upon the Higher kingdoms, never becoming kings and leaders themselves, being subjects for all eternity.

    Just as the Lord cannot tolerate sin, so too can He not allow for arrogance. It is a common theme throughout the scriptures that they who lift themselves up shall be forced down. This pride, or in other words this trusting in the arm of flesh is the source of wickedness, the fountain of death. Of course the Lord will dam up that stream of destruction, to protect his children.

    On the other hand, it is those that are humble that He consistently exalts. Then let us too worship Him and serve him with all our might, that we too may be lifted up at the last day. Only by bowing our head to Him can we truly hold our heads high, having a perfect brightness of hope, being absolute in our confidence in ourselves, thanks to Him.

    Let us all show obeisance and worship Him, as did David who wrote in Psalms “Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!

    How can I say it better than Alma who said “Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you. Yea, he saith: Come unto me and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life; yea, ye shall eat and drink of the bread and the waters of life freely;

    Who can say that they in and of themselves are perfect? I say no one can. Then if that is the case, how can we say that our pride in the pathetic works of our hands is so important as to reject Him. Is not his magnificent mercy and grace greater than anything we can accomplish? Is this not worth giving up our nothingness and foolishness for His majesty and greatness?

    He in his infinite love for us has provided this world where we can finally learn our place, and to learn to become independent, in and through our dependance upon Him. For He has said “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

    I testify that He is there waiting for us with arms outstretched, to humble ourselves that He may pull us up and uplift us to Him. I know that there is no greater gift than His love, and that if we desire after it He will glorify and perfect us in Him. Amen.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

On the First Law of Heaven

    In His kingdoms His Laws absolutely rule all, and since each successive Law builds upon the last, those that live the highest law by necessity must live them all. For us to begin on the path back to Him, we first need to understand his laws, each in turn building one upon the other; and to do that we must begin with the First Law of Heaven, or the Law that governs the Telestial Kingdom.

    In order to understand this first law, we must first examine and see those who refuse to enter into His kingdom, and why they choose not to partake of it. Only by realizing the differences between the lost and the saved, can we understand the law that they reject, which highlights the differences in the natures of those that reject that law versus those that embrace it.

    We often hear that it is those that have “denied the Holy Spirit” that become the Sons of Perdition. However what exactly does that mean? Everyone has ignored the promptings of the Holy Spirit at one time or another. Obviously that isn't sufficient to damn one to hell for eternity, otherwise there would not be any hope for salvation.

    If we read in 2 Thessalonians it speaks of a specific son of perdition at the last day, the Antichrist. Of him it says “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” We can see that all those that are lost in like manner follow the same mental pattern.

    These are they that not only rebel against God, but deny all Divinity rejecting His light. They “deny the truth and defy [His] power”, making a mock of all that is good. This is how they deny “the Holy spirit after having received it”. In their raw unbridled pride and arrogance they raise themselves up as God.

    Further in D&C 88 we read “That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin, and altogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment. Therefore, they must remain filthy still.

    They are they that raise themselves up as the law rejecting his true Law, thus leaving them in their awful filthy state. We see from this that the phrase “filthy still” are key words that are associated solely with the with sons of perdition. Because of their filthiness they are “the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power”. This second death being a spiritual death and is the hell from which the Telestial are eventually saved, and the Perditious are lost to again for all time.

    However after all this we do not learn what the Law requires. An eternal law is more than not doing something, it is a fundamental change in our nature. It is more than just not denying, for the Law demands a sacrifice of ourselves, after the manner of covenants of old. So what is it that we must sacrifice, and how is it that we must change?

    In Alma we read “Therefore God gave unto them commandments, after having made known unto them the plan of redemption, that they should not do evil, the penalty thereof being a second death”. As stated above, the condition that man must submit to in order to be saved from that death is that “they should not do evil”.

    This is the Law: The first law of perfect obedience, wherein one must accept the truth, and bow to His power. God does not and cannot tolerate any wickedness, “for the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance”. This goes doubly for any of His kingdoms, where His will reigns supreme.

    It seems obvious if one thinks about the nature of heaven. Of course there is no evil or filthiness in His kingdom, for filthiness begets more filthiness, which filthiness is the cause of suffering and misery, corruption and death. Even physical death is no escape from the stain of sin, but in this our mortal world we at least have an escape which is available by His grace. However if such corruption were to exist in an Eternal world, then it could only be an everlasting hell.

    Therefore the only way to guarantee this state of cleanliness is to enforce that by the Law of obedience. Because we are not allowed to sin, this law requires the sacrifice of our agency, wherein we give up to Him our ability to do evil, whereupon he grants to us true agency where we are able to act as we wish, free from the yoke of sin. And what does it mean to relinquish our ability to sin?

    In Alma we read: “Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence”. We can see from this that the righteous begin to receive this blessing even in part while in this life, and it is by being repulsed from all filthiness that they are protected from it.

    How glorious this is, that we may act with true freedom, without fear of causing undue pain, and without worrying about our weakness. This is the first and founding Law upon which all others are built. It is the law of Justice and Obedience, where His will is absolute, and his Law protects all that live by it.

    From this we see that the covenantal blessing associated with this Law is our salvation and preservation, where we give up iniquity that we may inherit life. Thus it is on the other hand that those that refuse to give up their ability to sin and their agency to rebel are they that spiritually die, having no agency “for they have no power”, being unable to act according to their wills for their wills are corrupt, being unable to find joy for they would only take joy in misery, seeking for happiness in wickedness.

    “And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received.” They receiving the covenantal curse, which is that final death of which has been spoken.

    Thus it is that all those that enter into any Kingdom must fulfill the words of Helaman who said “Yea, and it bringeth to pass the condition of repentance, that whosoever repenteth the same is not hewn down and cast into the fire; but whosoever repenteth not is hewn down and cast into the fire; and there cometh upon them again a spiritual death, yea, a second death, for they are cut off again as to things pertaining to righteousness.

    Now if this is the case, then you may wonder how it is that “liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers” are saved in the Telestial kingdom. Since they are sinners who repent not, how can they possibly be saved? Well to understand this we need to take a closer and broader look at repentance.

    The word repentance is the same word as return in Hebrew. All those that wish to return to any degree of glory must obviously accept the light and truth that governs it. The key difference between the perditious and the saved is the acceptance of his judgment.

    They that enter the Telestial Kingdom are those that reject His atonement and suffer for their sins. However they do so acknowledging their fault, bowing to the truth and accepting His justice. They are sanctified by justice, and in the end repent of their sins. In other words, they return from that hell as changed people, they having experienced the horrors of filthiness firsthand.

    As these are they that have ever served the flesh while in life, so it is that they receive a flesh that has no inclination of evil in the next. It is by this that they can be saved, for they ultimately reject filthiness, and while it is not because they love righteousness, they still do so and become clean before Him. It is their journey through hell that renders within their hearts the abhorrence of sin. It is in this manner that they repent, by dying as to their old selves.

    This goes hand in hand with the ordinance related to this kingdom. In D&C 84 we read that Repentance and Baptism are the preparatory gospel which was given to Israel, even after the Higher law was taken from them. This preparatory law is what governs this Telestial kingdom.

    Repentance is an obvious necessity, to prevent filthiness from entering, but Baptism's relationship isn't as obvious. However in 2nd Nephi 31 we read that Jesus “witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments” through this Baptism, which it later restates that it is something that we must do. Also in Moses 6 we read “For by the water ye keep the commandment”.

    Now what exactly does this baptism represent? It is a representation of our death, and rebirth as a new person, a person who has rejected sin. This is the very thing we must all do to gain entrance into his rest. Now this does not mean that those that reject Christ receive Baptism, but rather it means that all must go through that death and rebirth, either through the ordinance of Baptism wherein Christ has completed this act of spiritually dying and resurrecting in our stead, or by our literally dying spiritually and coming forth as changed creatures.

    It is then one of life's ironies where those that are least willing to give up their agency and will, are the very ones that lose any ability to act. Conversely it is those that are humble enough to bow to the Lords laws that are able to live as they will, just as in the scripture in John 12 “He that loveth [or is personally attached to] his life shall lose it [or have it destroyed]; and he that hateth [or loveth less] his life in this world shall be preserved unto life eternal.

    The Lord is God, His decrees are unalterable and his will is absolute, for He “will punish the world for evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; [He] will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay down the haughtiness of the terrible”. This is the terrible justice of God, and His wrath upon us save we repent, “for he will not suffer that the wicked shall destroy the righteous.

    Obedience to Him is the first law of heaven, upon which all other laws are predicated, not obedience after the manner of men, or after the precepts of men. For men will multiply rules and precepts to the binding down of man, if we will hearken and trust in the arm of flesh. But this runs contrary to true obedience, where we must seek for Him and His will.

    “Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism.

    As stated many times in the scriptures, if we keep His commandments we will prosper, both in this life and in the life to come. By actively seeking His will to keep the covenants that we have made with him, we will be preserved and raised up at the last day, not only to the Telestial Kingdom but beyond. Of this I testify amen.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

On the Nature of Eternal Laws

    As I have written before, in order to understand His Judgments we need to understand his Laws. Likewise, in order to enter a Kingdom, we must first keep the Laws of that Kingdom; which we cannot do if we don't even understand the Law. Before we can understand who we are and where we will end up in the eternities, we must first gain a greater understanding of those laws.

    Now when we hear of keeping God's Laws, the main thing that we hear of at church are things that command us of how to act in our everyday lives such as the Ten Commandments, Tithing and Offerings, or other mundane commands. However if we stay at a superficial level of understanding of His commandments, when we will never grow. We need to understand the motivation and purpose behind these commands, or we cannot appreciate the true laws of heaven, which govern His Kingdoms.

    Just as the Law of Moses was a preparatory law to the children of Israel, so too are these commandments to prepare our minds for greater things. However too often we fall into the same trap that the pharisees fell into, and “take strength unto [ourselves]”, not seeing the commandments as His way of guiding and and loving His children, but instead using those superficial statues to judge and condemn others, that we may have pride in our own strength.

    That, however, is not how His plan works. His judgments do not differentiate people by their superficial actions, as noted in a previous post, and as a consequence neither do His laws. So there arises the question, how do the laws differentiate us?

    Before looking at each kingdom and its laws in detail, first we must understand the nature of His laws. As stated in the D&C “And again, verily I say unto you, that which is governed by law is also preserved by law and perfected and sanctified by the same

    His Laws are not just orders to be followed, but rather are the source of that Kingdom's glory, or in other words they are covenants. On the other hand they are far beyond the covenants that we make in our mortal life, for the promises that we make demonstrate our desires, but they can and often are broken. In His Kingdoms the Laws are just like the Laws of nature, they cannot be broken, which is the reason for the distinction.

    Now what does it mean that his laws cannot be broken? It doesn't mean those they are in some sort of bondage or that their agency is forfeit. The laws are eternal and unbreakable in that it protects all those that have chosen the law. Since they have committed to take upon them the law and have adorn themselves with it, it becomes a protective armor that covers them in the bonds of His light and love. It is not restrictive, but rather power beyond imagining.

    This said, the Laws of Heaven are counterparts to the covenants that we make here on earth, for these promises that we make, prepare us for the eternities to follow. This is why Joseph Smith said “A man is saved no faster than he gains knowledge.

    Many fail to comprehend what this means, for they misunderstand by trying to apply a worldly definition to an Eternal concept; thinking that it means that they gain salvation through understanding calculus or quantum mechanics, or some other fact of nature. By doing this they undo the glorious message contained therein. Knowledge according to divine definition is not factual statements that one has mentally compiled.

    The Hebrew word for knowledge is da'at, which is comes from yada meaning "to know." To quote Avraham Gileadi “to know is another technical term that we get from ancient near eastern covenant language. It is a covenant term even way back in the sense of Adam knew his wife Eve and she conceived and bore a son. They have a covenant relationship between them. To know someone expresses that covenant relationship.”

    True knowledge is the making, keeping, and fulfilling of that covenant relationship. To Know god is to have an “intimate and interactive relationship” with Him. When Christ saved me by teaching me of his Atonement, I finally knew him. Until then I knew nothing of Him or His ways. The knowledge I have of Him and His power is what grants me strength to go forward.

    As much as I love studying scientific facts and laws, I understand that they do not save me. They have a form of power, but that is nothing compared to His power. Science cannot break the bands of death, He can. Thus to know His laws is also to keep them and make them a part of oneself, so much so that they will never be broken for all eternity. Thus His Laws become a part of every creature that inhabits that Kingdom.

    Then the next step for us is to find out how we come to know His law. Related to this in Matthew we read: “For whosoever [desires to] save his life shall [sacrifice] it: and whosoever will [sacrifice] his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give [as a ransom] for his soul?” I have added the words in brackets to show the intention of the Greek meaning, in order to clarify the meaning behind the verse.

    The necessity of sacrifice is explained in more detail here. To summarize: this sacrifice, by necessity, must precede our receiving His light and truth. It is impossible for us to gain any measure of power until we forfeit that which is required to receive it. Until I personally was willing to sacrifice my foolish and incorrect ideas, I was unable to know Him. It was my humbling myself and giving up those things that opened my eyes to His truth, by which I finally knew Jesus. 

    Similarly every Law of heaven demands that a sacrifice of oneself must be made before its power can manifest in empowering us. On the other hand if we are unwilling and refuse to relinquish that which is demanded by law, then in a way we lose that part of ourselves regardless. The Law demands that something is taken and it will be, either willingly if we acquiesce to the law, wherein it serves to bless us, or by force if we resist the Law, wherein it serves to curse us.

    Now this is not to destroy our agency, nor is it to enforce some arbitrary rule set. The Law exists to protect the order of heaven, and these Divine laws cannot be bent nor broken, for the protection and preservation of the innocent is of the utmost priority. It is only during this brief time on this world in this mortal probation, that we are able to get away with defying the law for so long. But the time will come and is soon at hand when it will be enforced yet again.

    Like as in ancient time, when children of Israel offered sacrifice before the Lord at his Holy House, so too must we now make this sacrifice, which sacrifice is made as we enter into that covenant by means of the ordinances that He has set forth for the deliverance of His people. Only by understanding these covenants, and ordinances can be begin to understand His law.

    The covenants The Lord made with Israel were made after a specific pattern, and while I won't go into detail as to the specifics of that pattern, it is important to note that all of these were made after a familial or patriarchal order. The Lord is our Father, where we must prove faithful unto him, whereupon He provides us with protection.

    With every Covenant, there were specific covenant blessings for faithfulness, and likewise there were specific covenant cursings according to our disobedience. Only by knowing this pattern can we begin to see how the Heavenly Laws work.

    The Laws of the Kingdoms likewise have blessings and cursings, each blessing and cursing being a natural outcome of keeping or breaking the law. The Lord does not wish to curse us, but it is an inevitable consequence that we ultimately choose, knowing full well what it entails. His blessings are available for all who continue to seek for them.

    While the laws themselves are covered here, here, and here, knowing the nature of the laws alone allows us to appreciate what He does for us. As I have mentioned many times, His work and glory is our immortality and eternal life, and the tools by which He accomplishes that work are the Laws of Heaven.

    Through our paltry sacrifices, he grants us to truly know Him, and through that, we finally know ourselves, our place, and even the entire universe. It opens our eyes for these laws are the key to our heart and ultimately our destiny, and if we acquiesce to those laws I promise that there is nothing that cannot be overcome, of this I testify. Amen.