Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Scriptures Teach Atonement

                Jesus Christ atoned for the sins of every mortal who will come unto Him.  During His Atonement, Jesus Christ suffered for our heartaches, pains, sorrows, transgressions, and sins and made it possible for us to return to God’s presence.  His death and Resurrection provide a way for every mortal to be resurrected and to become immortal.

                The main purpose for the scriptures is to testify of Jesus Christ and to help us come unto Him and partake of His atoning sacrifice.  The scriptures contain numerous teachings, stories, and symbols that can help us learn about the Savior.  We can gain much knowledge about Him by diligently studying the scriptures.

                We learn from the scriptures that all things given by God teach us about His Son.  Moses wrote, “And now, behold, I say unto you:  This is the plan of salvation unto all men, through the blood of mine Only Begotten who shall come in the meridian of time.
                “And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath:  all things bear record of me” (Pearl of Great Price, Moses 6:62-63).

                Nephi, an ancient American prophet, taught his people, “Behold, my soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ; for, for this end hath the law of Moses been given; and all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 2 Nephi 11:4).

                We learn from the scriptures that all prophets testify of Jesus Christ.  Another Book of Mormon prophet named Abinadi told the wicked King Noah and his priests, “For behold, did not Moses prophesy unto them concerning the coming of the Messiah, and that God should redeem his people?  Yea, and even all the prophets who have prophesied ever since the world began – have they not spoken more or less concerning these things?
                “Have they not said that God himself should come down among the children of men, and take upon him the form of man, and go forth in mighty power upon the face of the earth?
                “Yea, and have they not said also that he should bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, and that he, himself, should be oppressed and afflicted?” (Mosiah 13:33-35).

                There are many “types” or “shadows” of Jesus Christ in the scriptures.  One of the most obvious is Abraham offering his son Isaac as a sacrifice in a similitude of the sacrifice of the Son of God.  This experience is found in Genesis 22:1-14.
                “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt [test or prove] Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham:  and he said, Behold, here I am.
                “And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
                “And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. 
                “Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
                “And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.
                “And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
                “And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son [Yes, my son.]  And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
                “And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering:  so they went both of them together.
                “And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
                “And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
                “And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
                “And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him:  for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
                “And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns:  and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
                “And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh:  as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.”

                I have read and studied this experience many times, and I am amazed at the obedience and strength shown by both Abraham and Isaac.  As a parent and grandparent, I know how difficult this experience was for Abraham.  I realize that our Heavenly Father must have felt great pain as He watched His Son suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross at Calvary; I also recognize that Abraham must have desired his “cup” to pass from him.  Nevertheless, our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ – and Abraham and Isaac – never failed us.  They made the necessary sacrifices in order that we might have the opportunity and knowledge to prove ourselves worthy to return to God’s presence.

I recognize that God gave this experience to Abraham in order to show Abraham what Abraham was capable of.  God already knew that Abraham would be obedient to His command, but He wanted Abraham to know it also.  I also recognize that Isaac had the opportunity to exercise his own agency in this experience.  The scriptures call him a “lad”, but he was probably much older – maybe in his thirties.  No matter how old he was, he was definitely big enough and strong enough to keep Abraham from binding him and putting him on the altar.  He carried the wood for the fire (just as Jesus Christ carried his cross), and he most likely climbed on the altar and laid still enough for his father to find his hands and feet (just as Jesus Christ went willingly to His death).  In return for his obedience, Abraham – through Isaac – became the father of the faithful (just as Jesus Christ became our spiritual Father through His gift of eternal life.

                Jacob, a prophet in the Book of Mormon, :  “Behold, they believed in Christ and worshiped the Father in his name, and also we worship the Father in his name.  And for this intent we keep the law of Moses, it pointing our sous to him; and for this cause it is sanctified unto us for righteousness, even as it was accounted unto Abraham in the wilderness to be obedient unto the commands of God in offering up his son Isaac, which is a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son” (Jacob 4:5).

                We can learn about Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifices through many such many experiences in the scriptures.  If we are willing to pay the price through diligent study of the scriptures, we can gain much understanding about our Savior and His Atonement.  I invite you to join me in learning more about our Savior by gaining more understanding of His teachings, stories, and symbols in the scriptures.

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