25 October 2010

"Why Not Speak of the Atonement of Christ," Jacob 4:7-13

Jacob 4:7-13

I have been somewhat remorse as of late because of my personal failures to draw closer to my Lord. Knowing that I've received some significant spiritual instruction as of late, I think that the thing that has concerned me the most is my own obvious ingratitude towards Christ. I guess what I'm trying to express is that I feel that I have been taking for granted my Advocate before the Father, because He seems to always be there, whether or not I fully recognize His help. Reading these verses in Jacob has helped me to remember how absolutely essential Christ and His atonement really are.

What's even more interesting is the way in which Jacob words it. "For why not speak of the atonement of Christ, and attain to a perfect knowledge of him..." (vs. 12). What strikes me about this passage is the use of the word "perfect " suggesting that a knowledge of Christ's involvement in my life can be much more than just a passing awareness. The question that I am asking myself now is: how? How to attain to a perfect knowledge of Christ?

President Thomas S. Monson offers this solution: "Let us follow [Jesus Christ]. Let us emulate His example. Let us obey His words. By so doing, we give to Him the divine gift of gratitude," ("The Divine Gift of Gratitude", Oct 2010 General Conference, emphasis added).

"Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.  
"Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." (John 15:14-15, emphasis added)

I suppose what I am missing is the conscientious connection that my actions are the means by which a perfect knowledge of Christ is to be obtained. For as I do the things that Christ has taught, and regard my actions as reflections of the teachings of Christ, then will I become more intimately His disciple and His friend.

Now the final question I ask myself is this: do I have the faith to believe that it is just that simple? Do I want to believe in Christ? Of course I do. The use of the word "perfect" also provides a measuring stick for me to look to. If my knowledge is not yet perfect, then there is still room for growth in these matters. And I am not yet as I ought to become.

23 October 2010

"We Search the Prophets," Jacob 4:1-6

Jacob 4:1-6

I am reminded as I read through Jacob's account of their spiritual powers and blessings that they enjoyed in during his ministry though their access to the holy scriptures was severely limited because of their circumstances-- much more so than what we enjoy today. The reality of an over-abundance of access to spiritual light in our lives today really makes it seem strange that faith is yet still so hard to come by.

Perhaps this is brought to my mind as a result of viewing a recent documentary that discussed the miracle of the modern day scriptures and how so many people have access to the Bible and all scripture, which in the history of the world has never been any other civilization's privilege to enjoy. So it makes it even more impressive that given his people's limited access to holy writ, Jacob says in verse 6 that they searched the prophets and did themselves enjoy many revelations and the spirit of prophecy. Their witness of Christ that they had obtained through these means gave them great hope and unshaken faith, even to the point that they could command the elements in His name and the elements did obey them.

The natural question that I have to wonder about is: if we have such a greater abundance and access to the scriptures in our days, are we enjoying even greater blessings than these? Or why are we not excelling on all counts to produce greater miracles than these? Perhaps we are. At no other point in the history of the world has the church grown and continued to grow as it does today. That is a miracle. We are a temple building people. That is a miracle. Perhaps when all the records that are being kept of our day are made know, we will learn of trees, mountains, and waves also obeying the faithful disciples of Jesus.

16 October 2010

"This Commandment They Observe to Keep," Jacob 3:3-14

Jacob 3:3-9

The more that I am experiencing this reality of the world that I am currently a part of, and the more that I consider the direction of the Church of Jesus Christ in these latter days, it all makes perfect sense. For example, the revelation of "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" that emphasized the importance of family in all countries and societies. We are only fifteen years from the time that that came about. Never has its warnings and instruction been more needed than now.

Yet family, and the preservation of family has always been important to God and his prophets. The preservation of the Lamanites was based in part on the fact that they honored among themselves the basic structure of family. This they did by not violating commandments of fidelity and chastity among husbands and wives.

Jacob observes in verse 7 how among the Lamanites, their husbands and wives love each other, and both husbands and wives love their children. Perhaps those he was speaking to didn't fully grasp the significance of this statement. Jacob goes on to state how because of the Nephites' iniquities that they had destroyed the confidence of their own children (see vs. 10).

All sin is the result of selfishness on the part of the person committing it. It effects others. The sins of infidelity and  immorality are so serious in part because it is targeted at destroying the family--the institution that God has created to facilitate salvation among his children on earth.

10 October 2010

"Oh All Ye That Are Pure in Heart,"Jacob 3:1-2

Jacob 3:1-2

These first two verses of scripture have brought about a profound sense of peace in a very personal way. Only those who are aware of my personal struggles at the moment (which I haven't even been able to effective articulate to my own wife) may be able to fully understand why this is.

"But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction.

"Oh all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever."
All the turmoil that I have been dealing with has been swept away as I read these two verses, because I know my God is with me, because my heart is pure.

I have descended into a den of wolves. Wanting to avoid contention, by avoiding any references to God or my Savior Jesus Christ, has brought a great deal of uneasiness. I now realize in hindsight, this was a serious mistake.

I am reminded of the scripture, "If God be with thee, who be against thee?"  (see Romans 8:31)