Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Why not fear? Because when the Savior comes he will heal the earth, it will be spiritually reborn and all evil will be done away. It will indeed be a paradise! (See Article of Faith #10.)
Are we moving toward the light? Do we stand for truth and righteousness? Are we willing to do what the Lord desires of us? [And he only desires for us what we would want for ourselves if we had a perfect knowledge of things.] We know enough, however, to live by faith and understand that the Lord has done all things, from the creation to the atonement to the restoration, so we could live with Him again in His kind of life!!! I testify of this to each of you!!! Soften your hearts and be believing and obedient and you shall receive the greatest of the gifts of God!
Friday, September 2, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
An Unprofitable Servant
Paul begins the letter to the Romans with an interesting introduction. There is more going on here in Romans 1:1 than we might think. By knowing a bit about what went on in that time in that part of the world, we find some interesting things about Paul's view of his role as a servant in the work of the Lord and about our own relationship to Deity. By understanding better where we stand in relation to God, we are better able to understand what God wants of us and what he expects us to be.
Paul announces himself as a servant of Jesus Christ. The word he uses for servant is the Greek doulus. I am told that if you or I were Greek scholars and were translating this, we would be tempted to translate it as “slave” instead of servant. Certainly the servants in the Roman world were very close to what we would call slaves.
Paul was a Roman citizen and as such a high ranking member of society. He voluntarily identifies himself as a servant – one of the lowest classes in society. He wants to make a strong point about the gospel and our relationship to God. By submitting ourselves to Him we become his servants. We must do His will. Masters in the Roman world had life and death power over servants.
We Are His Servants Because:
We voluntarily submit to His will. This is a renewal of our pre-mortal covenant to come into this world and to do the “will of the Father.” He sent us to “Prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God will command them.” [Abraham 3:25] So obedience is the ultimate test. We renewed our commitment to obey when we were baptized. I see a similitude of this as missionaries are called on their missions. They ask for and receive a call to go to a certain mission. They return a letter to the the Prophet accepting the mission call on the terms offered – laying aside “every other concern.” They send back a letter which answers affirmatively the questions, “Will you always obey all mission rules?”
Then the Prophet, through their priesthood leaders, approves entering the temple, where they, like us, make additional covenants -- including, among other things, obedience. Here we have three witnesses to our willingness to obey; pre-mortally, at baptism and in the temple. Some of the most treasured of scripture affirms the Savior's understanding of the importance of obedience.
And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. [Mark 26:39]
Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; [Hebrews 5:8-9]
Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning. [3 Nephi 11:10-11]
The Savior accomplished all He did through obedience to the Father and became the author of salvation. Similarly, we are saved by faithful obedience.
We are His servants because we are bought with a price. We are owned by him.
Servants or slaves are not owed anything by their masters. They are owned and kept and they owe their masters their works. So we work for God without any expectation of earning a nything. We cannot earn our way to heaven. We have nothing to bargain with because we are already owned. And we already owe all we have. We can never repay [Mosiah 2:24] and we are always unprofitable servants.
Any gift from the master is by grace, not works. Hence we are saved by grace, not by works. Work we must, because it is our duty as bondsmen. Paul understood this and so did his readers In Rome, Ephesus, Corinth, etc. they knew as servants of Christ they were obligated to serve Him with all their hearts. Paul's point is that this is not enough to save us. Mercy and grace come to us through faith – after all we can do.
We are his servants because He created us. Our physical creation is more than a single event. We owe our physical lives to the Savior not for just the creation of our bodies some time in the past. We owe him our ongoing existence. “In Him we live and move and have our being,” says Paul. [Acts 17:28] King Benjamin says that God “has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another . . .” [Mosiah 2:21].
So the upshot is we are threefold his. By creation, by redemption and by our voluntarily accepting him as our master. Jus as in Paul's day, the servant is sustained in life by the master and therefore owes all. We can earn nothing. We cannot be exalted by our works, because we can never overcome the debt which grows each day. King Benjamin explains it this way [Mosiah 2:20-25 paraphrased.]
If we serve with our whole souls we are still unprofitable, because it is only through Him that we have the power to do anything. But yet, if we do “any good thing,” He immediately blesses us and we remain yet in His debt. All he requires of us is that we keep His commandments – but yet we have not earned but are blessed by grace, because He is gracious.
So then, what do we have to offer? We offer ourselves, but we have done that already and we execute that promise so imperfectly that he gave His life for us so our shortcomings in keeping that promise could be expiated. He has given us something which He does not claim and will not take back from us, and that is our agency. We can offer that back to Him in all humility. Which then brings us back to obedience.
There is one other thing we can offer Him. We can offer Him others. We can bring others to Him, by thrusting in our sickles with our might. In doing so, we “Lay up in store that we perish not, but bring salvation to our souls.” [D&C 4:4]
Behold, I say unto you that it is my will that you should go forth and not tarry, neither be idle but labor with your might— Lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, proclaiming the truth according to the revelations and commandments which I have given you. And thus, if ye are faithful ye shall be laden with many sheaves, and crowned with honor, and glory, and immortality, and eternal life. [D&C 75:3-5].
And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father. Amen. [D&C 16:6]
So, in the continuing saga of learning while serving, we look at serving as the key to drawing closer to the throne of grace. Finally, Paul tells Timothy that by teaching in the kingdom he will both save himself, and them that hear him. [1 Timothy 4:16]