Monday, March 26, 2012

Adam's posterity: the war between good and evil continues.

The effects of the Fall clearly followed the family of Adam.

What do I mean by this?  Well the next two-thousand years of history are filled with great examples of good and evil. 
Righteousness and wickedness. 
Happiness and sadness.
Clearly the 'war in heaven' you've read about here continued.

As soon as Adam and Eve taught their children right from wrong, and all the principles of the gospel, Satan started spreading lies, and turning many toward evil.  This was even before Cain and Abel were born (who were not the first two kiddies, by the way ...)

"From the time of the Fall the people of the world began moving in two opposite directions.  One group followed the teachings of Adam and Eve and continually strived for increasing righteousness and perfection.  The other group yielded to the deceitful enticings of Satan and his servants and moved deeper and deeper into depravity and wickedness.  Both these divergent paths were followed to their ultimate ends."  [1]

So both good and evil perpetuated in Adam's posterity.


As you study the effects of the Fall, and the lives of Adam's posterity, you realise that - yes, we’ve been shut out of the physical presence of God, but it's disobedience that leads men even further away from God.

Do you remember the story of Abel and Cain?

And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord.
And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.
And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering:
But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?
And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.
And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand;
When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.
And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear.
Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.
And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.
And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.   (Genesis 4:1-16)

This is the first example the scriptures give us of wickedness, of Satan's real power in the world.

Cain’s offering was rejected by the Lord - most likely for several reasons - but the fact remains that his sacrifice was not done in faith, nor was it in the prescribed and revealed manner.  He brought an offering of fruit, and he did it with a flippant attitude.  An angel of the Lord taught Adam how sacrifices should be done:  thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore (Moses 5:8).

Cain later entered into an unholy covenant with Satan, by which he became known as Master Mahan, or “master of this great secret,” and by which he could “murder and get gain” (Moses 5:29–31).  He and his descendants lived separately from the other descendants of Adam.

I thought it was interesting, however, that even after Cain’s unacceptable offering, the Lord did not reject Cain.  No.  Instead, the Lord gave Cain a hard and specific warning about the dangerous path he was walking.  He was pretty much chastised by the Lord to get his act together.

But Cain continued to reject the Lord, and Satan engineered his downfall step by step until he reached the point where “he glorified in his wickedness” and killed his brother at the suggested on Satan.

And that is where it all started.

Coming soon .. an example of the wickedness in Cain's posterity, and the righteousness in Seth's posterity.

[1] Old Testament student manual, 4-26

Friday, March 23, 2012

Thought for Friday.

 This is an example of something I will be performing in a week or so:

And now for something completely different ... something I came across by accident.  I loved it!!

And now this, simply because I'm a big fan of this movie which was released in the year I was born, and it just happens to be my birthday this weekend:

Have a great weekend, peoples!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Adam and Eve .. still in the Garden of Eden.

Adam and Even truly had agency in the Garden of Eden.

We looked at the principles of agency, making choices freely, but what about the other part of agency - accountability?
Were Adam and Eve really held accountable for their choices?

Of course they were!  I just told you that if agency exists, so does accountability.
Now see here:  (Lion King, anyone?)

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.
And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.   (Genesis 3:7-13; or see Moses 4:13-19)

Do you see all the questions the Lord asked them?  Where were you?  What did you do? 
The Lord already knew the answers, obviously.  But He still asked the questions, and gave Adam and Eve the opportunity to explain themselves.  (um, good parenting tip to follow?)

Now some people feel that God gave Adam two commandments that were in conflict with each other, and that that was an injustice.

Fair enough.  It certainly looks that way.

"If all decisions had but two alternatives, one clearly marked 'right' and the other clearly marked 'wrong', our personal development in spiritual muscle-building would not be nearly so strengthening.  Quite conceivably, the Lord recognised that man would gain much more learning and experience through dealing with conflict than with simple, clear-cut alternatives, and he therefore provided for this in our mortal period of life.  If it is not so, why did he place a set of principles in conflict before Adam and Eve in the very beginning?[5]

Well, say hello to Quinn McKay.  He offers three different ways to handle such situations created by principles in conflict.  His first is relevant here:

"Choose to obey the higher law when two principles are in conflict.  This is exactly what Adam and Eve did when they elected to eat of the fruit, what Nephi did when he slew Laban, and what the Saviour did when he forgave the adulteress.  And one of the important keys to obeying the higher law is to approach the decision with prayer."  [6]
So if alternatives seem to be in conflict, and an individual chooses to obey the higher law, or the most important principle, he does not sin.

Good to know.

It really becomes a matter of priorities - select the alternative that, in our judgment, is most consistent with gospel principles.
Elder Marion D. Hanks said "Never let things which matter most be at the mercy of things which matter least."
Maybe you should read that again.  Coz that is gold.

According to one of the many books I read, some people have wondered, since the Fall is so necessary for eternal progression, why God didn't just place Adam and Eve in a fallen condition to begin with.  I confess, that's never crossed my mind.  Has it yours?

If so, think on this:  If Heavenly Father caused men to become mortal then, He would ultimately be responsible for all the pain, sin, and sorrow that would come to man. 

Adam needed to have the freedom to choose to eat the fruit and fall.

How's this for a change in subject ...  enter the adversary, Satan.
Satan seeks to thwart (what a great word) the Lord's plan - we briefly looked at that the other week as a key truth found in chapter 1 of Moses.  But it is important to know that Satan live, and that he seeks to destroy the work of God.

Elder Marion G. Romney stated:  "We Latter-day Saints need not be, and we must not be, deceived by the sophistries of men concerning the reality of Satan.  There is a personal devil, and we had better believe it.  He and a countless host of followers, seen and unseen, are exercising a controlling influence upon men and their affairs in our world today."  [7]

The methods he used on Eve are the same methods he uses on people today.
Let's compare:

Can you think of specific examples of these methods today?

The reason I briefly look at this, is because knowing how Satan works helps us avoid being deceived by him.

As a side note, even though Eve was deceived, she still brought about the purposes of God.  And even though Satan thought he was impeding or preventing God's plan, he in fact helped it along because he didn't understand God's plan.  Not very bright.

Look at Genesis 3:15.  What does "the seed of the woman" refer to?
The seed of the woman actually refers to Jesus Christ.

"The promise concerning the bruising of the heel and head means that while Satan (as the serpent) will bruise the heel of the Saviour by leading men to crucify Him and seemingly destroy Him, in actuality that very act of the Atonement will give Christ the power to overcome the power that Satan has over men and undo the effects of the Fall.  Thus, the seed of the woman (Christ) shall crush the head of the serpent (Satan and his kingdom) with the very heel that was bruised (the atoning sacrifice)."  [8]

Note in Genesis 3:16 - 'sorrow' should read distress; 'rule' should read preside.

Adam and Eve then had the gospel of Jesus Christ explained to them.  The Lord explained to them that redemption should come through Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten of the Father.  Read their reaction to this teaching in Moses 5:10-11.

Of course Heavenly Father's plan also includes the means by which He can redeem all of His children from this fallen state, but they must again exercise their agency and choose to accept the plan.

We see that in Genesis 3:14-15.
Physical death and Spiritual death came into the world because of the fall of Adam.

What is the difference between physical and spiritual death?
Physical death is the actual separation of the spirit and the body.  Dead.
Spiritual death is the actual seperation from God's presence.  We hang out, no more.

And the Saviour overcame physical death, and made it possible for us all to overcome spiritual death.


WOO!!  That's pretty much what Adam and Eve said, when they were taught about the Saviour's mission and atonement.

And ... then they were cast out of the garden.  Bye bye paradise.  Hello weeds.

[5] Quinn G. McKay, "Principles in Conflict", Ensign, Jan. 1971
[6] ibid
[7] Marion G. Romney, in Conference Report, Apr. 1971, p.25
[8] Old Testament student manual, 3-8

Monday, March 19, 2012

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

I had hoped that my Institute class had read the readings I set in the book of Genesis. 

They had not.
(I shall chastise them with love, as the scriptures telleth us)

Which meant we needed to spend time looking at the events in Genesis, and then at the same events as recorded in the book of Moses.  Moses holds the doctrine lost from Genesis.

We left off around Genesis 2, when Adam and Eve had just been physically created, and were placed in the Garden of Eden.  Do you remember?

Before moving on, I want to recap a few points about the physical creation of man.
(Someone in my class asked about Eve being created out of the rib of Adam ...)

Have a look at Genesis 2:18.  As indicated by footnote 18b, the Hebrew term for the phrase "help meet for him" literally means 'a helper suited to, worthy of, or corresponding to him'.  The King James translators at the time rendered the phrase 'help meet' because the word meet in sixteenth century English meant 'fitting' or 'proper'.

But language changed.  And other silly translators came along.  In the seventeenth century, the two words help and meet were mistaken for one word.  So 'helpmeet' came to me 'a wife'.  THEN, in the eighteenth century, in a misguided attempt to make sense of this scripture, the spelling 'helpmate' came about.  The original meaning of the phrase had been obscured.

Why do I tell you this?  I want to understand the relationship God intended for Adam and Eve better. 

President Spencer W. Kimball taught that the term man in the story of the creation refers to "a complete man, which is husband and wife".  [1]  I should hope so!  He also taught that the detailed description of the creation of Adam and Eve describes their relationship (i.e. help meet) as "corresponding to each other", and prescribes the ideal of unity between a man and a woman.  The significance of the phrase "help meet" is that the woman is a creation who is a fitting and proper companion for Adam, because she is like him and corresponds to him.

I like that.

That concept is further solidified by the description of the creation of woman as being formed from the rib of Adam - a rib being a metaphor for a person corresponding to Adam.  It is to be taken figuratively.  [2]
"I presume another bone could have been used, but the rib, coming as it does from the side, seems to denote partnership.  The rib signifies neither domination nor subservience, but a lateral relationship as partners, to work and to live, side by side."  [3]
This proper role of the man and woman is clarified in the scriptural injunction that they should leave their parents and cleave unto each other, and become one flesh.


Talking about flesh, read Genesis 2:7.  Note the word 'flesh'.  It means mortality.

Last week, we discussed the spirit creation of man - that all things were created spiritually long before they were created physically.  Which means they could not die.

When Adam and Eve 'fell', a change took place (it's described here in Moses chapter 4), and all things became natural, meaning they were now subject to death.  So Adam and Eve had natural physical bodies (go and read 2 Nephi 2:22).  If I were you, I'd mark the difference between spiritual and natural in your scriptures.  Or at least note their meanings.
(None in my class marked them ... do people still mark their scriptures these days?)

Here is a diagram of the difference stages in Adam's existence (as described in Genesis 2 and Moses 3):

(source: Old Testament Seminary Student Manual)


Now let us look at how that Fall happened.
Remember, the world only has the Genesis account, which doesn't discuss any doctrine at all.
Also remember, the overall purpose of the events in Genesis 3 is this, as taught by Lehi:
"Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy."  (2 Nephi 2:25, bold obviously added)
Before reading about the fall, consider these basic principles:
  1. When Adam and Eve were placed in garden, they were not subject to the power of death.  They could have lived there forever, in a state of innocence, forever.  And if that happened, the earth would have remained in that same state forever too.  And everything on the earth.  In a type of limbo, if you like.
  2. In that situation, there would have been no children.  No making babies.  No experiencing joy, sadness, labour pains, tough decisions, none of that stuff.  Hence the limbo.
  3. By eating the forbidden fruit (and violating the law under which Adam was placed), their nature was changed.  It all changed.  Man became subject to (1) spiritual death, which is banishment from the presence of God; and (2) temporal death, which is separation of spirit and body.
  4. So .. this transgression brought about mortality, and the children of Adam and Eve inherited mortal bodies and became subject to the mortal death.
  5. And .. obviously the state of the earth and everything on it changed to suit the mortal condition of man.  Everything became subject to mortality, even the earth.
  6. The is the best bit : to defeat the power which death had gained, it became necessary that an infinite atonement be offered to pay the debt.  It was necessary; it would restore Adam and Eve and all their posterity - in fact all things - to immortal life through the resurrection.

With these principles in mind, we now need to read Genesis 3:1-6 (and/or Moses 4:5-12):

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

So "... the forbidden fruit had the power to create blood and change his nature, and mortality took the place of immortality."  [4]  Woah.

Here's an interesting side note for ya:  Who did Satan tempt?
According to Genesis and Moses, he only approached Eve.  But he actually approached Satan first.  There are other scriptures that confirm this, as well as latter-day revelation.  Have a look, you'll find it's in there ...

Now let's talk about the agency that the Lord gave Adam and Eve.
Agency is the ability to make choices and be accountable for them.  It's absolutely necessary for everyone who desires to become like God.  Which means Adam and Eve needed to exercise their agency and partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, so they could progress to become like Heavenly Father.

PLUS, eating that fruit made it possible for the rest of Heavenly Father's children to come to earth and exercise their own agency.  Yay for fruit!

For agency to exist, four principles must be in operation:
  1. You must have a choice.
  2. You must know the alternatives.
  3. You must have an indication of divine will.
  4. You must have absolute freedom to choose.

So were all four principles operating for Adam and Eve?

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.  (Moses 3:17)

What do you think?

[1] Ensign, Mar. 1976, p.71
[2] Spencer W. Kimball, ibid
[3] Russell M. Nelson, "Lessons from Eve", Ensign, Nov. 1987
[4] Doctrines of Salvation, 1:76-77

Saturday, March 17, 2012

What to expect.

I've been having problems with blog spot.

Which is soooo annoying. 

But it explains my absence.

I have several posts ready to share on some cool things in the Bible (don't you just hear that all the time?) and a terrible backlog of photos to upload and updates to give.

I think I've figured it out ... so here is what you can expect from me over the next few days. 
If I get my act together.

1  We are amazing at assembling flat packs.

2  We have visited every Freedom store in South Australia.

3  Some people feel that the Lord gave Adam two commandments that were in conflict with each other, and that that was an injustice.
I found out what to do if presented with a situation of choosing between two conflicting commandments/principles.

4  I also found out I like Pinterest.  Damn it.   
You following me?

5  It turns out that my husband is very sensible.
Here is a recent transcript of email banter:

Him: Dear Mrs S.  Hello.  Kind regards.
Me: Hello Mr S.
Him: We could order the furniture I guess.  The table and chairs.
Me: No rush, really.  The introductory price is around until Easter.  Pasta tonight?  We could get peas and bacon to add.
Him: Yeah pasta sounds good.
Me: Sounds good.  You liked what we saw yesterday?
Him: The table?  Yeah it's pricey but its what we want :)
Me: We could find cheaper chairs?
Him: Well they are $XX - you don't wanna go too cheap.  Paying $X for a chair and not liking it, it's worth just buying the $XX chair.
Me: You would say that.
Him: It is true though, so you save 300 bucks .. but for the next 10 years you wish you had them.  30 bucks a year.  2.50 a month.
Me: Ha. I'm laughing.  You are so cute.
Him: It's true though .. its all about calculations, that is logic .. it makes sense.
Me: I'm so posting this conversation on my blog.
Him: You would :P  so yeah we could order the stuff.

See how he helps me through the dilemmas of life?  I've always been a saver, and need to justify big spends.  Now that I'm married, he helps with that ;)

6  Oh, and any ideas on what to get from this place?  I came into some credit here, and can't decide what I would like for future use ...


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Genesis and the Creation.

I now teach the Old Testament at Institute.

And gosh the week is going by fast.  It's almost time to teach again!

The book of Genesis is not complete.  It definitely isn't the same when it was written.  Things are missing from it.  Which is exactly what Satan intended.  A Book of Mormon prophet, Nephi, wrote extensively about this.  He tells us that Satan has always desired to have certain truths taken out of the scriptures, to make us stumble and be all confused-like.  Terribly rude of him.

Go ahead, read 1 Nephi 13:26-29.
He says that people have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious ... And all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men. ...[and] because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them.

Chapter 1 of the book of Moses is a great example of writings that were lost from the Old Testament.  Read Moses 1:40-41.  It's pretty clear that Satan didn't want the world to have certain information contained in this chapter, because it is vital to our correct understanding of the Old Testament.

(In fact, if you read Moses (and Abraham) while reading Genesis ... boom, your understanding will double.)

We then looked through chapter 1 of Moses, to see what special truths we could find; key truths that are no longer in the book of Genesis, or may not be so clear.
  • Jesus Christ, under the direction of the Father, organised this earth as well as countless others (v.32-33).
  • Satan, the adversary, has opposed the Lord’s work from before the creation of the earth.
  • God’s power is greater than Satan's (v.20-21).  Take that.
  • The work of God is to bring about the immortality and eternal life of man (v.39).
To me, these important truths are not just fundamental in understanding the Old Testament, but fundamental in understanding Jesus Christ.  The primary purpose of the Old Testament is to witness of Christ!  If we can truly understand the God of the Old Testament (who was the pre-mortal Jesus Christ), then we can better understand Christ's teachings in other scripture, as well as key doctrines like temple ordinances, covenants, and the atonement.

Have you ever considered the purpose of the Old Testament?
We should be looking for the message of Christ throughout our studies of the Old Testament.

A memorable line .. In the beginning.
It wasn't really the beginning, but whatever.  Literary licence.

There are actually three scriptural accounts of the creation of the earth and its inhabitants - Genesis 1-3; Moses 1-3; and Abraham 4-5 (which also tells us about the planning session in heaven).  I decided to look to all these accounts for a greater picture as to what happened.

For completeness, we reviewed the physical creation of the earth according to Moses chapter 2, which is the same as recorded in Genesis.  Here is a summary of what happened on each day, according to Genesis:

Day Seven is an important one to note.  The Lord didn't just rest on the seventh day, He sanctified it (see Moses 3:1-3).  Which means the day was made holy.  The Sabbath should be made holy in our lives, each and every week.  It should be treated differently; set aside as time for us and our families to remember God.

There are other important things to note from what we read about the creation:
  • the Lord was pleased with the creation.  Especially so after man was placed on the earth.
  • the pre-mortal Christ was intimately involved in the creation of the earth.
  • the earth was not organised by chance. It was created deliberately, with a purpose.

Of course, the crowning event of the creation was the creation of man (Man = both male and female, thank you very much).
Before we look at that ... have you ever noted that there “is no account of the creation of man or other forms of life when they were created as spirits.  There is just the simple statement that they were so created before the physical creation”?  The interpolation, or sudden references to the spirit creation in Genesis 2:4-5 and Moses 3:5, is all we read about it.

But what powerful knowledge this is.  “Man, animals and plants were not created in the spirit at the time of the creation of the earth, but long before.”
“When the Lord said he would create Adam, he had no reference to the creation of his spirit for that had taken place ages and ages before when he was in the world of spirits and known as Michael.”
“Adam’s body was created from the dust of the earth, but at that time it was a spiritual earth.  Adam had a spiritual body until mortality came upon him through the violation of the law under which he was living, but he also had a physical body of flesh and bones.” [1]

Just something to think about .. I'll talk more about the spiritual creation next time.

In Genesis 1:26-27, we read:
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
So God created man in his own image
, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Do you quite comprehend what God meant when He said “in our image”?

President Brigham Young said: "Man is made in the image of his make, ...he is His exact image, having eye for eye, forehead for forehead, eyebrows for eyebrows, mouth for mouth, chin for chin, ears for ears, precisely like our Father in heaven."  [2]
And the Church published this statement, as doctrine: All men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother, and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity.  [3]

The Family Proclamation is a document you should be very familiar with.
If you are not, you need to be.  It is filled with truths relevant for you and your family.

It says:  “All human beings – male and female – are created in the image of God.  Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.  …In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshiped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realise his or her divine destiny as an heir of eternal life.” [4]

Surely you have had experiences when you have felt close to Heavenly Father, or felt an ounce of your divine nature.  But what could possible cause us to forget that we are sons and daughters of God?
“There is something of divinity within each of you.  You have such tremendous potential with that quality as a part of your inherited nature.  Every one of you was endowed by your Father in Heaven with a tremendous capacity to do good in the world.  Train your minds and your hands that you may be equipped to serve well in the society of which you are a part.  Cultivate the art of being kind, of being thoughtful, of being helpful.  Refine within you the quality of mercy which comes as a part of the divine attributes you have inherited.” [5] 
Think, then, of what abilities you and I have inherited from our heavenly parents.
Think about what we are capable of, what we can be entitled to.  Our great potential.

Perhaps knowing you are a son or daughter of God, with divine potential, will affect the decisions you make and the way you live.

Genesis (and Moses) also refer to the relationship of Adam and Eve; how they should work together.

Eve was given to Adam as an eternal companion (read Genesis 2:18-25; Moses 3:18-25).
“When Eve was given to Adam, the union was an eternal one. There was no death in the world, for the fall of man came later (see 2 Nephi 2:25-26), and when the seeds of death were sown and man was banished from the presence of the Lord, the union previously formed was not severed.” [6]

And within that partnership – an eternal marriage – they were commanded to “be fruitful and multiply”.  This seems to have been the first commandment recorded.

The student manual says this:
Knowing that the primary work of God is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39) and knowing that without a physical body man could not have a fulness of joy (see D&C 93:33-35) and knowing that coming to earth to prove oneself is a prerequisite to eternal progression (Abraham 3:25), one could safely say that bringing children into the world is one of the high priorities in the Lord's plan.
Let no one ever think that the command came to have children without marriage.  No such suggestion could ever have foundation.

In the context of today’s shocking decline of morals and standards, note this:
And that’s the way the Lord organised it. This wasn’t an experiment. He knew what he was doing.

Have you ever considered Adam and Eve to be your role model, especially where standards and our roles in the family are concerned?

[1] Doctrines of Salvation, p61
[2] In Ludlow, Latter-day Prophets Speak, p.278 as cited in Old Testament Student Manual, third edition
[3] In Clark, Messages of the First Presidency, 4:203 as cited in Old Testament Student Manual, third edition
[4] “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”, Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102
[5] Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Light within You”, Ensign, May 1995, 99
[6] Doctrines of Salvation, p168

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I want to know God.

I have a new calling (assignment in my church).
I haven't even attended my new ward (congregation) or stake yet.
But there ya go.

I am now an Institute teacher, and other night was the first lesson for the year.  Hello Old Testament.

It is probably safe to say that the Old Testament is the least read book of scripture among Latter-day Saints.  Yet prophets, both ancient and modern, have stressed the priceless value of the Old Testament in assisting men to know God.  Book of Mormon prophets, as well as the Savior, quoted extensively from the Old Testament.

I've decided, then, to really dive into the Old Testament. 
In preparing for the lesson, I read and re-read several chapters in Genesis, Moses, John, and 1 Nephi.  I also studied the teachers' manual, the student manual, the relevant seminary manual, and a few addresses by General Authorities.

I want to really get stuck into it!

And there really is so much to learn from the Old Testament.

Back in 1990, President Boyd K. Packer said:
"In the Old learn of the creation and fall of man, the foundation for the temple endowment.  You learn what a prophet is.  You become familiar with such words as obedience, sacrifice, covenant, Aaronic, Melchizedek, and priesthood.  The whole basis for Judaic-Christian law, indeed for Islam, is taught to you.  The 'why' of tithes and offerings is explained.  You read prophecies of the coming Messiah and of the restoration of the gospel.  You see Elijah demonstrate the sealing power and hear Malachi prophesy that Elijah will be sent with the keys of the sealing authority...  Now almost abandoned by the Christian world, [The Old Testament] remains to us a testament of Jesus Christ."  [1]

So I've decided to get to know the God of the Old Testament better.

We started by looking at the Old Testament as a whole, discussing its contents and what we could possibly learn, and what we expect, from studying it.  You may already know that its contents can be divided into four categories:
the law (Pentateuch); the histories; poetry (or writings); and the prophets (or prophecies).

What you may not know is that many of the books in the latter section, which are usually quite hard to understand at first (hello Isaiah), were actually written that way for our benefit.  Yup.  They are not simple or straightforward, simply because the prophets knew that simple, plain truths would eventually be taken out of the Bible (think of all the hands and translations it went through).  They hid really important truths, truths meant for us, so that they would still be intact for our benefit in the last days.  Like today.

We also reviewed how to study the Old Testament.  Let's face it - the Old Testament is long, and sometimes misunderstood.  So we discussed some very important keys in effectively studying the scriptures:

1. Constant, Diligent, and Prayerful Study is the Major Factor in Understanding the Scriptures
We already know what we should be doing.  "Search the scriptures ... and ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, to manifest the truth unto you", and if you do so "with an eye single to His glory nothing doubting, He will answer you". [2]

So simple, yet so profound and true.  You cannot read scripture, and expect wisdom to fall out of the sky.  Nor can you expect that your faith in God or testimony of the principle will be strengthened.

If you pray after/while studying the scriptures, "[y]ou will then know for yourselves and not for another.  You will not then be dependent on man for the knowledge of God; nor will there be any room for speculation."  [3]  Jackpot.

I really love what Elder Spencer W. Kimball once said:
“I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away.  If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns.”  [4]
2. Coupled with Prayerful Study, Must be a Commitment to Live the Commandments
Reading and knowing the scriptures ain't enough.  You knew that, right?

"But be ye doers of the word and not hearers only"  (James 1:22).
We need to hearken.  Hearken means to hear and obey.  Are you a hearkener?

3. Latter-day Scriptures Give Many Insights into the Old Testament
Because God loves us, and is the same yesterday, today, and next week, He has and always will provide prophets to help guide us.  A modern-day Moses, in our time, offering latter-day revelation to aid in our understanding of scripture (e.g. the Old Testament).

Various sections in the Doctrine & Covenants expand our understanding of biblical events and people.  The additional words of Moses help us fill in the gaps in Genesis.

This all means we can be certain of the inferences and understandings we receive from the scriptures.

4. Knowledge That the Gospel Was Known to the Ancients provides the Means for Accurate Interpretation of Their Teachings
So many great principles are taught within the Old Testament.  The same principles that Jesus Christ taught when He was on the earth (makes sense).  In fact, He quoted those Old Testament teachings and offered commentary on them and how to apply them.

He also fulfilled a few Old Testament verses, too.

5. Understanding the Nature of God provides Special Insight
Something that is not known is this:  the God of the Old Testament, Jehovah, was the pre-mortal Jesus Christ.  He was the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob.

Not only that, but many read about the God in the Old Testament, and picture a harsh, omnipotent God.  The kind that throws thunderbolts from the sky.

How wonderful to know the nature of God!  For that same harsh God is the loving and extremely forgiving Saviour in the New Testament.  They are the same, and by studying the Old Testament, we learn about our divine nature and how to know God better.

6. The Nature and Purposes of God’s Covenants with His Children Are Important
Understanding covenants is key to understanding the Old Testament.

A covenant is a binding promise made with God.  The Old Testament records of God's dealings with his children as they make and keep sacred covenants.  We see the direct results : blessings and protection - sometimes He literally intervenes and protects His people - or the wrath of God.  No wonder the Old Testament prophets were always repeating themselves.

We too are a covenant people.

7. Putting Ourselves in the Place of the Ancients as we Read the Scriptures is an Important Part of Studying the Old Testament
I really believe this key is super important, and possibly the key to making the scriptures enjoyable as well as applicable.  Think how you can put yourself in the place of the ancients you read about.  How can we do that?
A Book of Mormon prophet once read the books of Moses (first five books in the Old Testament), and instructed us to liken all scriptures unto us so that we can be more fully persuade[d] to believe in the Lord ... that [the scriptures] might be for our profit and learning (1 Nephi 19:23).

If you do this, you "may be as familiar with the spirit and meaning of the written word of God as you are with your daily walk and conversation".  [5]

Then we can truly begin to learn who God is.

This all makes me excited.  I love to study the scriptures - to colour code words and scriptures, to write key statements in the margins, to stick little post-in notes everywhere with relevant quotes, and to glue in diagrams and maps that will help my understanding.

If you need help studying, I'd suggest checking out all the marking guides and study helps over here.  Clever lady.

If you're interested, I'd like to share my lessons and insights throughout the year, as I study and teach the Old Testament ...

[1] in Conference Report, April 1990, 49; or Ensign, May 1990, 37-38
[2] Smith, Teachings, pp.11-12 as cited in Old Testament Student Manual, third edition, p.23

[3] ibid
[4] What I Hope You Will Teach My Grandchildren
[5] Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 7:333 as cited in  Old Testament Student Manual, third edition, p.25

Friday, March 2, 2012

Thought for Friday.

[both found here]

Just remembering a clever guy, born on this day back in 1904.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Our home's first estate.

Remember my exciting news?

We were pretty much over the moon with the prospect of getting the keys to our very own house.  I took the day off work, allowed myself to sleep in, and then enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in the city.

Matthew took me to a great place he’d been to before.  It did not disappoint.

Hello, salmon and scrambled eggs. And beautiful Adelaide juice.

We drove to Bunnings, the Costco of handymen, and gathered the essentials I had listed a few days before (okay, a few weeks before).  Hose, sprinkler, outdoor broom, mop, bucket, etc.  Just enough supplies to get us through the cleaning stage.

We then sat in our car, thinking .. do we just rock up and collect the keys?  No one called to confirm.
Turns out, you can just rock up and collect keys.
I’m sure they didn’t doubt who we were, but as our agent wasn’t there, how could they be sure we weren’t randoms off the street, collecting house keys?!

This is what we found - our home's first estate.
(If it obeys us, and is found worthy, it will inherit its second estate.)

Lots and lots of lace.  Gosh there were curtains everywhere.

The charming laundry, complete with muck and uneven floors.

Is that a kitchen I spy?

We decided to keep the sliding doors for, oh, five minutes or so.  They have now gone, far far away.

This light fitting reminds me of Belle's saloon, from Gone With The Wind.

This feature is for me, if I am suddenly attacked in the middle of the night by .. my sleepwalking husband.

Since then, so much progress has been made:

Removal of fancy light fittings and plastering over the holes from all the wall fixtures and billions of hooks and nails - check.
Lots and lots of paint - check.
New carpets, in a colour as far away from pink as possible - check.
Installation of lots of down lights, all carefully measured and personally installed - check.
Working out how to turn the hot water on - check.
Installation of unlimited internet - check.
Thorough cleaning - half check.
Moved in - almost check.

Any furniture - no check.

In other news, thanks to all those who be-friended me (or re-friended me), as part of my chocolately bribe. 
Hopefully the policy change in Google won't affect it ...

Congrats Ellen!  You (and your thighs and/or butt) are now entitled to some choc-milky goodness.
Contact me for your selection.

And not to worry, all you international readers who've yet to partake of the Australian goodness.  I'll do this again sometime soon ... just for you.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...