The Innocence of a Child – Part 2

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One of the debts the Savior paid was for little children. Those under the age of accountability – age eight (and older if the mental capacity for accountability is not there) – are freed from the demands of justice by virtue of the Atonement. Jesus suffered in the Garden and on the cross so that little children would be redeemed.

I marvel at the price the Savior paid. The more I think about the Atonement, the more awed I am by it. My pains and sufferings in this life are nothing compared to the Savior’s; yet, my sufferings and pains are everything to Him. He came to earth to pay the price for all our sins and sufferings. He paid in great drops of blood. He paid the measure due justice in His 40 day fast, in His fatigue, in His worry and sorrow; He paid with the lashes He received; Jesus Christ paid the debt as He carried His cross to Calvary until He could walk no more; He paid as He hung and died upon the cross. With His death came the end of His mortal work. He finished all His Father sent Him to do. He was the one true Son.

The Savior paid the debt owed justice. Mercy cannot rob justice. However, Christ did not just pay the debt, He also provides enabling power. The great prophet Enoch taught this principle many years ago:

“That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory; For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified” (Moses 7:59-60).

We all sin and fall short but the Spirit justifies us. The blood of Christ sanctifies us – we are not only free from blame but also pure and holy and are endowed with power from on high. We are able to act with the knowledge and power of God. We lose the desire for sin and are enabled and enlightened in all aspects of life. The Atonement enables us not only to do good but also be good. It enables us to live godly lives here on earth and prepare to live godly lives in the world to come.

The Atonement is the keystone of the Plan of Salvation. Without the Lord’s sacrifice, all humankind would inevitably be lost. The entire measure of the earth’s creation would be for naught; it would be but dross and refuse. But the Atonement did occur; Jesus did suffer for us. That means it is up to each of us to choose to accept that sacrifice by choosing to make and be faithful to the principles, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel. The Lord stands at the door; we simply need to open the door and let Him in.

A House of Prayer Podcast – Episode 1

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In this first podcast episode I briefly discuss the meanings of the terms justification and sanctification as they apply to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I present an essay I wrote based around the scripture Moses 6:60: “For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified.”

This means that I’m announcing a great new feature for my blog. I decided to turn my series of essays into podcasts! That statement should make anyone start to salivate and feel giddy. The essay of this first episode is my can be read here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. It was originally posted in September 2008.

I’m new to podcasting and don’t have a fancy recording set-up. Please excuse the occasional breathing sounds my microphone picked up. I need to find a mic position that reduces the sounds of me exhaling. Of course, by pointing that out you will all notice my breathing a lot more. 🙂 If this podcast proves to be at least marginally popular, I will consider getting a nicer podcasting set-up.

If you’ve subscribed to my feed, you should receive the audio file automatically. If you have not subscribed to my feed, it’s never too late! You can also click on the following link to download the file (right-click {or option-click on a Mac} to download): A House of Prayer Episode 1

You can subscribe to my podcast in iTunes by following the “Subscribe to Podcast” link under the Advanced menu. Then paste my feed address in the box: http://feeds.feedburner.com/AHouseOfPrayer

You can also now subscribe directly from the iTunes Store by clicking on this link: A House of Prayer podcast (notice: requires and opens iTunes). I hope you subscribe.

Let me know what you think!

Credit: The short music clip I use as an entrance and exit to the show is an arrangement of Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing from the album Reflections of Christ. Visit that link to find out how you can purchase the music (I’m not associated with the artists or music in any way; I just enjoy it).

The podcast album art is an image by Irwin-Scott. Check out his photo stream on Flickr. I thought his photo of the Salt Lake Temple would be a fitting image as a house of prayer. His night-time photo of the illuminated temple surrounded by darkness has a lovely symbolic meaning of the temple as a light on a hill, an ensign to the nations, a lighthouse shining forth in the darkness.

Lessons from Death, Part 5

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The great prophet Enoch had a vision that spanned the ages of the earth. He saw many people in many times. He saw the great wickedness upon the face of the earth. He saw the flood in the time of Noah wipe out all the people of the earth except for Noah and his family. Enoch’s response to this vision was similar to many of our responses to death. “And as Enoch saw this, he had bitterness of soul, and wept over his brethren, and said unto the heavens: I will refuse to be comforted; but the Lord said unto Enoch: Lift up your heart, and be glad; and look. And it came to pass that Enoch looked; and from Noah, he beheld all the families of the earth; and he cried unto the Lord, saying: When shall the day of the Lord come? When shall the blood of the Righteous be shed, that all they that mourn may be sanctified and have eternal life?” (Moses 7:44-45). The blood of the Lamb that was slain sanctifies us, which sanctification is not just a purification of our sins but also a change in our very beings. Sorrow is replaced with exultation.

Joseph Smith, while a prisoner in the Liberty Jail pleaded, “O God, where are thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?… Remember thy suffering saints, O our God: and thy servants will rejoice in thy name forever.” (D&C; 121:1,6). In reply the Lord comforted Joseph: “My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high” (D&C; 121:7-8). What comfort comes from Him who descended below all and rose triumphant from the grave, victorious over death! The prophet Joseph Smith and his wife Emma experienced the loss of multiple children. Surely their grief was intense as they buried their little children amid the turmoil of the Restoration. Joseph said, “The Lord takes many away even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on the earth; therefore, if rightly considered, instead of mourning we have reason to rejoice as they are delivered from evil, and we shall soon have them again” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 196-197).

Link to part 4 of this essay.

Justification and Sanctification, Part 3

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Here is the conclusion (for now) of my justification and sanctification essay.

The precious blood of the Savior was shed for each of us. He suffered so that we need not suffer if we repent. His blood purifies us; it sanctifies us and allows us to return to dwell with God. Sanctification makes us holy, or consecrated. Just as the temple is holy, a place of holiness to the Lord, a sanctuary from the world, when we are sanctified, we become holy and protected from the world. Through temple service and worship we can become sanctified.

The Lord described those who are sanctified with these words: “But first let my army become very great, and let it be sanctified before me, that it may become fair as the sun, and clear as the moon, and that her banners may be terrible unto all nations” (D&C; 105:31). In preparation for the Second Coming the Lord’s people were commanded, “Wherefore, prepare ye, prepare ye, O my people; sanctify yourselves…. Go ye out from Babylon. Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.” (D&C; 133:4-5).

Sanctification is the process and the state of exaltation. Those who are sanctified become one with the Savior: “Ye shall be even as I am, and I am even as the Father; and the Father and I are one.” (3 Ne. 28:10). Those who are “sanctified in holiness before the Lord [will] dwell in his presence day and night, forever and ever.” (D&C; 133:35). The sanctifying presence of the Lord is “as the melting fire that burneth, and as the fire which causeth the waters to boil.” (D&C; 133:41). This fire cleanses and purifies. It allows us to become more like the Savior and allows us to return to live with Him.

Justification and Sanctification, Part 2

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Here continues part 2 of my justification and sanctification essay.

Sanctification goes beyond becoming blameless or re-aligned with God. It means being purified, becoming spotless before the Lord. “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; and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God.” (Alma 13:12). Those who are sanctified cannot stand even the appearance of sin, and like Nephi prayed, “shake at the appearance of sin” (2 Ne. 4:31). The sanctified are not just cleansed from sin – they have no desire to sin. The sanctified do not just do no wrong; they are not just free from wrong, they, like the Savior, “[go] about doing good” (Acts 10:38). The sanctified receive the attributes of the Savior upon themselves; they become like Him.

Sanctification comes through the blood of Christ: “But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever…. And [the Lord] cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam…. And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God.” (2 Ne. 9:18,21,23). The suffering of Christ was great, “For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit – and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink.” (D&C; 19:16-18).

Justification and Sanctification, Part 1

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This is the first of a few posts about justification and sanctification. I decided to break my essays up into multiple posts in order to make them more digestible in one sitting.

“For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified” (Moses 6:60). The process of sanctification is long but straightforward. First, we must exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and repent. In order to keep all the commandments we must receive the ordinance of baptism. After baptism we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, which justifies, or makes us guiltless. Once we have entered into the way we must continue in it: “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified” (Romans 2:13). Lastly, through the blood of Christ, through the grace of God, the Atonement, we are sanctified.
What does sanctification mean? In order to understand sanctification, I think we need to understand justification first. Justification is becoming guiltless, or blameless before God. We use the word justify often. Sometimes when we feel attacked or defensive, we try to justify our actions or words. When we are asked to justify an answer on a test, for example, we back the answer up with supporting material or in math, we show all the steps to solving the problem. We justify things when we are building; we bring materials into alignment. In typesetting, text can be justified (or, aligned) in different ways. That’s the essence of what justification is – bringing things into alignment. When we are justified by the Spirit, we are brought back into alignment with God. The presence of the Spirit makes us right with the Lord, it helps us remain aligned and focused on the path that leads to eternal life. The Spirit allows the needle of our spiritual compasses to point back north. It allows our Liahonas to work and point the way to the Promised Land.