Saturday, 15 May 2010

Top Five Messages of the Restored Gospel

The following are my candidates for the five most important messages of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. They are my opinion only, and I make no claim that they are exclusive to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

5. There is a purpose to life. This world we live in was created for a reason, and that reason is us. We - each and every member of the human race, collectively and individually - are living here in order to learn and grow. God didn't create us out of nothing so He had someone to worship Him, or so He could have people to condemn - He sent us here because we need to develop our understanding and faith, and learn our own strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately, we need to learn whether we will ever be comfortable living with our Heavenly Father.

4. The family is eternal. We will not be separated from our loved once in the resurrection. We won't all be sitting on separate clouds with harps and wings. We will be together, our families sealed together through all their generations. Husbands and wives, parents and children (and children's children, and so on down)... all will be family, forever. Families are an important part of Heavenly Father's plan, and he isn't going to split them up once we're all immortal.

3. The heavens are open. God speaks today! Each and every one of us, whatever church we belong to, or even if we don't, can hear the words Heavenly Father would have us hear. The Holy Ghost can, will and does speak to everyone, and if you ask for it, Heavenly Father will give you comfort and guidance, if you but listen. Further, God's will for the human race as a whole is being constantly made known through His prophet on the earth today.

2. Jesus atoned for our sins. Everyone has done something wrong in their life. Because our Heavenly Father is perfect, He cannot abide the sins of humanity - we could not communicate with Him or ever return to His presence if we were unable to repent of our wrongdoing. Through the atoning sacrifice of our Saviour Jesus Christ, we can repent - each and every one of us. As we do so, our sins are forgotten - we are made clean once again. Through repentance, and by the Atonement, we can hear the Holy Ghost's whispers today - and we can prepare to return to our Heavenly Father's side in eternity.

1. God loves you. He loves everyone. He loves us because He is our Heavenly Father - the literal father of our spirits. We are not animals created on a whim - we are His children. Because of this, He has given us all the blessings of life on earth, and all the blessings of the Gospel. Because of His love for us - for you, whoever you may be - our Father sent his firstborn and most-beloved son, even Jesus Christ, to suffer and die for you - and to be raised up again for your sake, that you might overcome both sin and death through His sacrifice. All of your Father's gifts are freely extended to you - all you have to do is take them.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

The Purpose of Life

There's a question I've been thinking about for a while now - since I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, actually. Why are we here on earth at all?

Our Heavenly Father is all-knowing and all-powerful. He can literally do anything. He knows everything that ever has or will happen. And yet our purpose on this earth is apparently to demonstrate our obedience to Him. Why? He already knows whether we'll do what He says or not. Why not simply send us all to the degree of glory we would prove ourselves worthy of without the whole earth thing?

Often, people will answer that we're "here to get a body", "here to be baptised and receive the ordinances of salvation", or "here to learn". However, this is the creator of the entire universe we're talking about. He could give us bodies by snapping his fingers. He could just make it so the ordinances were done. He could implant knowledge straight in our brains. So why doesn't He?

My dear brothers and sisters - my fellow children of the Father - He doesn't because He loves us. We are all His literal spirit children, and He loves us unconditionally and without limit. Because He loves us, He wants us to understand. Yes, He could easily - more than easily - give us everything we'd deserve, He could tell us why some of us were being seemingly-arbitrarily assigned to the Telestial Kingdom rather than the Celestial, but could He simply make us understand?

He could, of course, but like I said - He loves us. The greatest gift our Father gave us is our agency - our ability to choose for ourselves whether to do good or evil. To simply shove understanding into our brains would violate that agency. What good is the ability to choose if the reasons behind everything can just be planted in your head?

The scriptures tell us the reason for our being assigned to different eternal kingdoms:

For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory. And he who cannot abide the law of a terrestrial kingdom cannot abide a terrestrial glory. And he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore he is not meet for a kingdom of glory. (Doctrine and Covenants 88:22-24)

The three kingdoms of glory don't exist because Heavenly Father doesn't like the spiritual smell of those who live in the terrestrial and telestial kingdoms. They exist because, quite simply, if you can't handle the laws of a kingdom, you wouldn't be able to live there. You couldn't handle it. Heavenly Father lives in the Celestial Kingdom - those who are too weak to live His Gospel in this life are too weak to stand his presence in the next. That could only be changed by changing what makes us who we are - by taking away that precious agency.

Because we experience the trials of this life and our reactions to them, we will understand why -when we are called before the judgement bar - we are given a particular kingdom of glory. Yes, we are here to gain a body, and yes, we are here to prove ourselves worthy or not. But we're not proving it to Heavenly Father. We're proving it to ourselves.