Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunshine Always Follows the Storms

Utah this spring has been deluged with an abundance of water. On top of record snow totals in the mountains now threatening floods near every open body of water, rain has also been falling in abundance. Last night the showers came again. Early this morning I was awakened by the emerging radiant sunshine over the mountains to the east against a wall-to-wall panorama of blue overhead. The ominous clouds amid thunder, lightning and a torrent of rain had dissipated.

Isn't that exactly what we believe as Christians? Jesus Christ is the source of our light and truth. We receive and partake in His abundant glory bit by bit, day by day, interlaced amid bursts of thundershowers. It was more than rhetoric when He declared, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6). His declaration is truth. Nothing is appointed unto man "except it be by law, even as I and my Father ordained unto you, before the world was." He continues, "I am the Lord thy God; and I give unto you this commandment — that no man shall come unto the Father but by me or by my word, which is my law, saith the Lord." (D&C 132:11-12). It's a commandment to bask in the light of truth emanating from our Savior.

The word of Jesus Christ is the essence of how we receive light and and truth. It's how we embrace the covenants associated with salvation. His word is equated with His Spirit, with light, and with truth (see D&C 84:45) and so is the priesthood. These are glorious synonyms. As we nurture and care for the word, we receive more and more until the seed has sprouted and then matured within us (see Alma 32). Receiving the word is how we grow in light and truth and avoid the deceptions abounding in mortality. Temptations may cloud our vision momentarily like a passing thunderstorm, but the light always follows the storms. The Savior has only one object in His redemptive work and that is to bring us to a fulness of glory if we will obey and trust His word. He is the Great Prototype. He knows how to obey. He followed the way the Father gave Him. When we receive anything from the Father it is in the same manner Christ received it.

God's glory is the personification of the fulness of light and truth. Christ also received the fulness in a process well defined: "I, John, saw that he received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace; And he received not the fulness at the first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness." (D&C 93:12-13). At the Second Coming we will be flooded with light and truth emanating from Him. But even before that day the spread of truth is described as a flood. (Moses 7:62).

Without grace in the process we are certainly doomed to failure in our quest for more light and truth. Notice, He received grace for grace, and He went from grace to grace. The word grace can be defined as "favor, kindness, and goodwill." The theological definition is easily rendered as "the free unmerited love and favor of God," offering divine assistance to the obedient ones who will embrace light and truth. Note the key words here -- love and favor, and unmerited assistance. To receive grace for grace is to receive divine assistance on the condition of giving assistance. We get no better than what we are willing to give to someone else in return. It's paying it forward, isn't it? It's reciprocity. When I am forgiven by God, I must be willing to forgive others, and not just once but seventy times seven. (Stop counting). That's what D&C 93:20 is all about. The more we give the more we get, and we are always unprofitable servants in the exchange (see Mosiah 2:21). We simply cannot get out of debt to God because we are showered, drenched as it were, in a downpour of love, light and truth from Him.

This is the process for us, and it certainly was the path of our Lord in mortality. He received grace, or divine assistance, from the Father. This grace He extended freely to His brethren and disciples. As He did so He received more and more grace. Eventually He received the fulness of the glory of the Father. Would anyone dare to contradict? Our Savior was Himself, saved by grace.

Listen to the Savior's descriptions: "The Father hath not left me alone, for I do always those things that please him." (John 8:29). What insight! He was totally dependent upon the Father for power and knowledge. By doing God's will, the Savior enjoyed communion with the Father through which God gave grace to the Son.  "The Son can do nothing of himself," but "the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." (John 5:19; 14:10). And so it is for each of us. Ask any missionary how people are converted and come into the immersing waters of baptism. Few will take credit for the transformation -- it is a spiritual matter.

In the relationship between the Father and the Son, we come to learn about our relationship with Christ. He reminds us, "As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." (John 15:4-5).

Whenever grace is extended to us in merciful assistance by Christ, something tangible is offered. We are given increased ability to cope, to act and eventually to overcome. We see grace in the scriptures as the loss of our natural man in the desire for sin and we see the accompanying ability to live in the light of God's laws going forward. Paul taught, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? . . . For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace." (Romans 6:1-2, 14). The demands of having to live God's laws eventually give way, as the roots of our spiritual maturity deepen, to wanting to obey because we are growing in ascending degrees from grace to grace in light and truth.

Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith taught, "None ever were perfect but Jesus; and why was He perfect? Because He was the Son of God, and had the fullness of the Spirit, and greater power than any man." (TPJS, 187-88). The power came through the grace from the Father.

The partial record we have in D&C 93 makes clear that the possession of light and truth allows one to forsake the evil one and to be protected against all his wiles to deceive. Light and truth enable us grow and progress toward that perfect day of the fulness of the glory of God. Our Lord grew in levels of increasing power until he received a fulness. So it is for each of us. The Savior was already the spirit Son of God. He was unique as the Only Begotten physical Son. It was the reception of the divine attributes of light and truth by which He was glorified and gained eternal life. He became the spiritual or eternal Son of God when he received of the fulness of the Father. And so the divine pattern repeats within us.

"And thus [meaning in this way, this is how it was done] he was called the Son of God, because he received not of the fulness at the first." (D&C 93:14; emphasis mine). The Father announced, "This is my beloved Son." (D&C 93:15). All that was necessary for the Savior to receive the fulness was to receive the proferred gift and to act upon it by extending what He received to others. In matters of light and truth, "He received a fulness of the glory of the Father; And he received all power, both in heaven and on earth, and the glory of the Father was with him, for he dwelt in him." (D&C 93:16-17).

The Savior makes it clear if I haven't, when He says, "I give unto you these sayings that you many understand. . . that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fulness. For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace." (D&C 93:19-20).

Joseph Smith added, "You have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power." (TPJS, 346-47).

No matter how dark your night of trouble and affliction, the Son is always shining behind all the dark clouds overhead. When the storm passes He is always there beaming light and truth. Open your heart and bask in it, then radiate.

It's a commandment.

1 comment:

  1. I supose these could be the same thoughts that ran through the mind of King Ahab as he figured there had to be an end to the droubt and light at the end of the tunnel.

    It's all a matter of our perspective, right ?

    I would only say that applies to someone who saw it the way Elijah saw it and not from Ahab's point of view.

    Elijah's perspective was God's reality. Ahab's perspective was his own.

    We live in a time much worse than that of the days of Ahab when the droubt fell on Israel.

    Excessive snowfall and rain on Israel are NOT a sign of God's favor. Nature in BALANCE is a sign of God's favor.

    A tornado crossing the heart of down town Zion is NOT a sign of favor from God and it is NOT merely a random act of nature. There is no such thing.

    A Damn that breaks and floods the homes of Saints is NOT a sign of favor to God's People. Nor is the rise of worldly absorbtion into Babylon by the Lord's People a good sign of expecting to recieve the favors of God upon an obiedient people.

    Yes..The sun DOES arrise the next day, which always seems to be the focus of these events, as opposed to recieving them as WARNINGS & readjust our attitudes accordingly.

    An in tune humble yet wayward people would see these things as such. An out of touch people with God see only the Up Side to disaster as being something to overcome with human effort, as opposed to Spiritual Reflection of what might bring these things on.

    We live in times more wicked than Noah's Day. Have the Lord's People been INSULATED from disasters and the effects of Babylon creeping into our lives ? If the answer to that in our minds is Yes...Then we may become suprised one day to find we wake up one morning & the Sun no longer shines upon us, because like Ahab, we didn't view these things as Warnings from God, but rather as random acts of nature that simply need to be overcome.

    Sort of the way Pharaoh must have felt toward those Ten Plauges God sent. He just became MORE determined to place his will above that of God's. And look where that got HIM ?...