Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015, Jesus Christ, LDS Doctrine, New Testament

Gospel Doctrine 2015 – Lesson 39 – “For the Perfecting of the Saints”

  1. The dispensation of the fulness of times

Ephesians 1: 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

‘The word “mystery” (μυστήριον mustērion) means literally something into which one must be “initiated” before it is fully known (from μυέω mueō, to initiate, to instruct); and then anything which is concealed or hidden. We commonly use the word to denote that which is above our comprehension or unintelligible. But this is never the meaning of the word in the New Testament. It means there some doctrine or fact which has been concealed, or which has not before been fully revealed, or which has been set forth only by figures and symbols. When the doctrine is made known, it may be as clear and plain as any other.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

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Ephesians 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

‘In the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836, Moses appeared and gave the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery the keys of the gathering of Israel. After this, Elias appeared and committed the gospel of Abraham, that in “our seed all generations after us should be blessed.”After this, Elijah the prophet appeared and gave to them the keys of this dispensation, including the sealing power, to bind in heaven that which is bound on earth within the temples. Thus, prophets of previous gospel dispensations presented their keys to the Prophet Joseph Smith in this, the “dispensation of the fulness of times” spoken of by the Apostle Paul to the Ephesians. ‘ (James E Faust, General Conference, April 2006)

  1. Jesus Christ as our cornerstone

Ephesians 2:12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

“…one gratefully ponders Paul’s reminding references to those who live without hope and ‘without God in the world.’ (Ephesians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:5.) Observe what happens by way of expanding our perception when those excellent words of Paul are placed alongside these parallel words from the Book of Mormon:

‘And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness.’ (Alma 41:11.)

‘Yea, every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess before him. Yea, even at the last day, when all men shall stand to be judged of him, then shall they confess that he is God; then shall they confess, who live without God in the world, that the judgment of an everlasting punishment is just upon them; and they shall quake, and tremble, and shrink beneath the glance of his all-searching eye.’ (Mosiah 27:31. See also Mosiah 16:1.)

“Thus we see clearly that to live without God in the world is to live ‘in a state contrary to the nature of happiness.’ Yet, one day even those who have so existed (they can hardly be said to have ‘lived’) will acknowledge the justice of God.” (Neal A Maxwell, Plain and Precious Things [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 34.)

Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

‘You are reckoned with the people of God. You are entitled to their privileges, and are not to be regarded as outcasts and aliens. The meaning is, that they belonged to the same community – the same family – as the people of God. The word rendered “strangers” – ξένοι xenoi – means “foreigners in state,” as opposed to citizens. The word rendered “foreigners” – πάροικοι paroikoi – means “guests in a private family,” as opposed to the members of the family.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Ephesians 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

‘The Church was established by Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry, “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets”.  In this, “the dispensation of the fulness of times” the Lord restored what once was, specifically telling the Prophet Joseph Smith, “I will establish a church by your hand”  (D&C 31:7) Jesus Christ was and is the head of His Church, represented on earth by prophets holding apostolic authority.’ (Donald L Hallstrom, General Conference, April 2012)

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Ephesians 4: 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

“Now, others may insist that this is not the true church. That is their privilege. But to claim that it does not exist anywhere, that it does not even need to exist, is to deny the scriptures.

“The New Testament teaches of ‘one Lord, one faith, one baptism’ and speaks of ‘ [all coming] in the unity of the faith’ (Eph. 4:5, 13) and of a ‘restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began’ (Acts 3:21.)

“We did not invent the doctrine of the only true church. It came from the Lord. Whatever perception others have of us, however presumptuous we appear to be, whatever criticism is directed to us, we must teach it to all who will listen.” (Boyd K Packer, “The Only True Church,” Ensign, Nov. 1985, 82)

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

“We now ask, all Christendom who profess to be Saints, whether they are perfect or imperfect? The general answer is, ‘we are imperfect.’ How do you expect to become perfect, if you do away out of your churches inspired apostles, prophets, and other officers? These are the only gifts and officers by which the Saints can be perfected. Have you got them in your midst? Millions answer ‘no: we do not believe in prophets in our day.’ But do you believe in ‘pastors and teachers?’ O yes, they are necessary. Who told you to reject the most important gifts of the church and to retain the rest? ‘No one has told us to do this but our ministers, and they must be good men, and they say that apostles and prophets are no longer necessary, but that evangelists, pastors and teachers are’…Know assuredly that there never was any other plan adopted in the gospel to perfect the Saints than through apostles, prophets and other gifts.” (Orson Pratt’s Works [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1945], 163 – 165.)

 Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

‘In view of the hundreds of churches claiming to be the church of Christ and yet teaching conflicting doctrine, is it not clear that men are being tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine as the Apostle Paul stated, and is this not because the apostles and the prophets whom God placed in his Church to bring them to a unity of the faith were all put to death, except the Apostle John who was promised that he might tarry to bring souls unto Christ until he should come in his glory’?’ (LeGrand Richards, General Conference, October 1963)

  1. Unity between husband and wife and between parents and children

 Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

“Christ loved the church and its people so much that he voluntarily endured persecution for them, suffered humiliating indignities for them, stoically withstood pain and physical abuse for them, and finally gave his precious life for them.

“When the husband is ready to treat his household in that manner, not only the wife but all the family will respond to his leadership.

“Certainly if fathers are to be respected, they must merit respect-if they are to be loved, they must be consistent, lovable, understanding, and kind, and they must honor their priesthood.” (Spencer W Kimball, “Home: The Place to Save Society,” Ensign, Jan. 1975, 5)

 Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

‘Both men and women are to serve their families and others, but the specific ways in which they do so are sometimes different. For example, God has revealed through his prophets that men are to receive the priesthood, become fathers, and with gentleness and pure, unfeigned love they are to lead and nurture their families in righteousness as the Savior leads the Church. They have been given the primary responsibility for the temporal and physical needs of the family.  Women have the power to bring children into the world and have been given the primary duty and opportunity as mothers to lead, nurture, and teach them in a loving, spiritual environment. In this divine partnership, husbands and wives support one another in their God-given capacities. By appointing different accountabilities to men and women, Heavenly Father provides the greatest opportunity for growth, service, and progress. He did not give different tasks to men and women simply to perpetuate the idea of a family; rather, He did so to ensure that the family can continue forever, the ultimate goal of our Heavenly Father’s eternal plan.’ (M Russell Ballard, General Conference, October 1993)

 Ephesians 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

“You fathers can help with the dishes, care for a crying baby, and change a diaper. And perhaps some Sunday you could get the children ready for Church, and your wife could sit in the car and honk.

“‘Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.’ With that kind of love, brethren, we will be better husbands and fathers, more loving and spiritual leaders.” (Russell M Nelson,”Our Sacred Duty to Honor Women,” Ensign, May 1999, 39-40)

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Ephesians 5: 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

‘And cleanse it with the washing of water – In all this there is an allusion doubtless to the various methods of purifying and cleansing those who were about to be married, and who were to be united to monarchs as their brides.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 Ephesians 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

“In latter-day revelation the Lord speaks again of this obligation. He said, ‘Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.’ (D&C 42:22.) To my knowledge there is only one other thing in all scripture that we are commanded to love with all our hearts, and that is God Himself. Think what that means!

“This kind of love can be shown for your wives in so many ways. First and foremost, nothing except God Himself takes priority over your wife in your life-not work, not recreation, not hobbies. Your wife is your precious, eternal helpmate-your companion.

“What does it mean to love someone with all your heart? It means to love with all your emotional feelings and with all your devotion. Surely, when you love your wife with all your heart, you cannot demean her, criticize her, find fault with her, or abuse her by words, sullen behavior, or actions.

“What does it mean to ‘cleave unto her’? It means to stay close to her, to be loyal and faithful to her, to communicate with her, and to express your love for her.

“Love means being sensitive to her feelings and needs. She wants to be noticed and treasured. She wants to be told that you view her as lovely and attractive and important to you. Love means putting her welfare and self-esteem as a high priority in your life.

“You should be grateful that she is the mother of your children and the queen of your home, grateful that she has chosen homemaking and motherhood-to bear, to nourish, to love, and to train your children-as the noblest calling of all.” (Ezra Taft Benson, Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1990], 44.)

  Ephesians 5:29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

“Keep yourselves above any domineering or unworthy behavior in the tender, intimate relationship between husband and wife. Because marriage is ordained of God, the intimate relationship between husbands and wives is good and honorable in the eyes of God. He has commanded that they be one flesh and that they multiply and replenish the earth (see Moses 2:28; Moses 3:24). You are to love your wife as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for it (see Eph. 5:25-31).

“Tenderness and respect-never selfishness-must be the guiding principles in the intimate relationship between husband and wife. Each partner must be considerate and sensitive to the other’s needs and desires. Any domineering, indecent, or uncontrolled behavior in the intimate relationship between husband and wife is condemned by the Lord.

“Any man who abuses or demeans his wife physically or spiritually is guilty of grievous sin and in need of sincere and serious repentance. Differences should be worked out in love and kindness and with a spirit of mutual reconciliation. A man should always speak to his wife lovingly and kindly, treating her with the utmost respect. Marriage is like a tender flower, brethren, and must be nourished constantly with expressions of love and affection.” (Howard W Hunter, “Being a Righteous Husband and Father,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 51)

 Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.

‘In the Lord – That is, as far as their commandments agree with those of God, and no further. No parent can have a right to require a child to steal, or lie, or cheat, or assist him in committing murder, or in doing any other wrong thing.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 Ephesians 6:2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)

“The prophets have said that our greatest tests often take place within our own homes. How we behave toward one another as children, parents, spouses, brothers, sisters, and roommates under the stress of everyday life is the real indicator of our Christianity. And although the gospel of Jesus Christ encompasses the highest ideals and standards, we must never forget its underlying principle-love. And that is what honoring implies-loving. Not judging, not resenting, but loving in its highest form.” (Kelly Clark Hinton, “I Just Don’t Have That Kind of Dad,” Ensign, June 1988, 52)

 Ephesians 6:3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

‘it is still true that obedience to parents is conducive to length of life, and that those who are most obedient in early life, other things being equal, have the best prospect of living long. This occurs because:

(a) obedient children are saved from the vices and crimes which shorten life. No parent will command his child to be a drunkard, a gambler, a spendthrift, a pirate, or a murderer. But these vices and crimes, resulting in most cases from disobedience to parents, all shorten life; and they who early commit them are certain of on early grave. No child who disobeys a parent can have any “security” that he will not fall a victim to such vices and crimes.

(b) Obedience to parents is connected with virtuous habits that are conducive to long life. It will make a child industrious, temperate, sober; it will lead him to restrain and govern his wild passions; it will lead him to form habits of self-government which will in future life save him from the snares of vice and temptation.

(c) Many a life is lost early by disobeying a parent. A child disobeys a father and goes into a dramshop; or he goes to sea; or he becomes the companion of the wicked – and he may be wrecked at sea, or his character on land may be wrecked forever. Of disobedient children there is perhaps not one in a hundred that ever reaches an honored old age.

(d) We may still believe that God, in his providence, will watch over those who are obedient to a father and mother. If he regards a falling sparrow he will not be unmindful of an obedient child; if he numbers the hairs of the head he will not be regardless of the little boy that honors him by obeying a father and mother.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

“At the time I was a new parent, President David O. McKay presided over the Church. His counsel was clear and direct regarding our responsibilities to our children. He taught us the most precious gift a man and woman can receive is a child of God, and that the raising of a child is basically, fundamentally, and most exclusively a spiritual process.

“He directed us to basic principles we need to teach our children. The first and most important inner quality you can instill in a child is faith in God. The first and most important action a child can learn is obedience. And the most powerful tool you have with which to teach a child is love. (See Instructor, Vol. 84, Dec. 1949, p. 620.)” (L Tom Perry,”Train Up a Child,” Ensign, May 1983, 78)

  1. Putting on “the new man” and “the whole armour of God”

Ephesians 4:21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:

‘Well, the Latter-day Saints know better than to teach their children one thing at one time and another at another time; they also know better than to teach their children principles and doctrines in theory which they deny in practice. The Latter-day Saints are not at liberty to do this; we are not so called; we have not so received the Gospel; but having received the truth in our hearts, we should practice it in our lives, and on this basis —the truth as it is in Jesus – should the traditions which we instil into the minds of our children be built.’ (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses)

Ephesians 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

The word ‘conversation’ here means ‘conduct’

 Ephesians 4:23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

“Behold the natural man! Selfish, impatient, short-tempered, easily offended, unforgiving, proud, envious, covetous, carnal, and drenched in ego! No wonder he is to be ‘put off.’ (Mosiah 3:19; Colossians 3:8; Romans 6:6; Ephesians 4:22.) Nevertheless, he is very difficult to put off. The old ways, so pleasing to the carnal man, are really hard to set aside. Actually, these ways are not really fulfilling and not really satisfying. But they are preoccupying, for pleasing the natural man is a full-time business. He sees to that!

“Paul and King Benjamin agree that we are to put off the old man, or the natural man (Mosiah 3:19; Colossians 3:9-10). Whereas Paul would have us put on the new man, King Benjamin describes the process as that of becoming a saint. Elsewhere the process is described as becoming the ‘man of Christ’ (Helaman 3:29). In any case, we seek to have the ‘mind of Christ’ and to strive to become ‘even as [He] is’ (1 Corinthians 2:16; 3 Nephi 27:27).

“Of course, what is really to be jettisoned, put off, is anger, selfishness, malice, injustice, impatience, filthy communication, and so forth, while we put on kindness, meekness, long-suffering, and so on (see Colossians 3:9-10).” (Neal A Maxwell, That Ye May Believe [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1992], 18.)

Ephesians 4: 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

‘It is a serious sin to lie. The scriptures teach us that “lying lips are abomination to the Lord”(Proverbs 12:22) and that “he that lieth and will not repent shall be cast out” (D&C 42:21). They also teach us that to lie about a person is a form of hatred, for “a lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it.”(Proverbs 26:28). The Apostle Paul gave us counsel concerning this matter: “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour.” (Ephesians 4:25)’ (L Lionel Kendrick, General Conference, October 1988)

 Ephesians 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

‘Should circumstances arise to call for anger on your part, let it be as Christ’s “anger” (Mr 3:5), without sin. Our natural feelings are not wrong when directed to their legitimate object, and when not exceeding due bounds. ‘ (Jamieson-Faussett-Brown Bible Commentary)

 Ephesians 4:27 Neither give place to the devil.

“…we need not become paralyzed with fear of Satan’s power. He can have no power over us unless we permit it. He is really a coward, and if we stand firm, he will retreat. The Apostle James counseled: ‘Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.’ (“James 4:7James 4:7.) He cannot know our thoughts unless we speak them.

“We have heard comedians and others justify or explain their misdeeds by saying, ‘The devil made me do it.’ I do not really think the devil can make us do anything. Certainly he can tempt and he can deceive, but he has no authority over us that we do not give him.

“The power to resist Satan may be stronger than we realize. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: ‘All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. The devil has no power over us only as we permit him. The moment we revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power.’ (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 181.)” (James E Faust, Reach Up for the Light [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1990], 107.)

  Ephesians 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

‘The word rendered “corrupt” (σαπρὸς sapros) means bad, decayed, rotten, and is applied to putrid vegetable or animal substances.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

 32 And be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

“In such homes, where we are ‘kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another’ (Eph. 4:32), where we are holding our family meetings, discussions, and councils, where we are praying, working, and playing with love as our chief motive, where we are trying to share the gospel with others and fulfill the other purposes of the Lord-in those homes there will dwell a powerful spirituality and unity that will be a lifelong strength to all family members.” (Spencer W Kimball, “Therefore I Was Taught,” Ensign, Jan. 1982, 5)

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

‘Men sometimes falter? Yes, sometimes they think they are strong; but no man is strong unless he be strong in the Lord. No man is sustained only as God sustains him; and if he does not sustain him, I would not give much for his ideas or position. ‘ (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses)

 Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

‘The word “wiles” (used only here and in Ephesians 4:14) is an almost technical word for the stratagems of a skilful leader. It is notable that these “wiles” are ascribed to the devil, the “prince of the evil spirits” directing his hosts against the army of Christ; the actual “wrestling” of hand-to-hand struggle is with these evil spirits themselves.’ (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

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 Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

“The tide of evil flows. It has become a veritable flood. Most of us, living somewhat sheltered lives, have little idea of the vast dimensions of it. Billions of dollars are involved for those who pour out pornography, for those who peddle lasciviousness, for those who deal in bestiality, in perversion, in sex and violence. God give us the strength, the wisdom, the faith, the courage as citizens to stand in opposition to these and to let our voices be heard in defense of those virtues which, when practiced in the past, made men and nations strong, and which, when neglected, brought them to decay.” (Gordon B Hinckley, Be Thou an Example [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981], 58.)

 Ephesians 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

‘ The Lord may call us when we little think of it, or require labors at our hands when we are not prepared; which would be an awkward position, and very unpleasant to a person who had any regard for his character, before God, and in the society of his friends. There is no time to lay off the armor of Christ; there is not a moment in the lives of the children of men when they can afford to serve the devil; it is always the best to be on our guard, be honest, and honorable in the sight of God and man, which is the path of safety.’ (Joseph F Smith, Journal of Discourses)

 Ephesians 6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

‘In this magnificent passage, while it would be unreasonable to look for formal and systematic exactness, it is clear that (as usual in St. Paul’s most figurative passages) there runs through the whole a distinct method of idea. Thus the order in which the armour in enumerated is clearly the order in which the armour of the Roman soldier was actually put on. It nearly corresponds with the invariable order in which Homer describes over and over again the arming of his heroes. First the belt and the corselet, which met and together formed the body armour; then the sandals; next the shield, and after this (for the strap of the great shield could hardly pass over the helmet) the helmet itself; then the soldier was armed, and only had to take up the sword and spear.’ (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

 Ephesians 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

‘I bear witness that parents who consistently read and talk about the Book of Mormon with their children, who share testimony spontaneously with their children, and who invite children as gospel learners to act and not merely be acted upon will be blessed with eyes that can see afar off (see Moses 6:27) and with ears that can hear the sound of the trumpet (see Ezekiel 33:2-16) The spiritual discernment and inspiration you will receive from the combination of these three holy habits will enable you to stand as watchmen on the tower for your families—”watching … with all perseverance” (Ephesians 6:18) to the blessing of your immediate family and your future posterity. I so promise and testify in the sacred name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.’ (David A Bednar, General Conference, April 2010)

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Posted in LDS Doctrine

Patriarchal Blessings

Test your knowledge – are the following statements about patriarchal blessings true or false?

  1. One purpose of a patriarchal blessing is to tell you what the Lord expects of you.
  2. You need to receive only one patriarchal blessing in your life.
  3. A patriarchal blessing declares your lineage.
  4. The only difference between a patriarchal blessing and a blessing your father might give you is that they are given by different people.
  5. Unless the patriarch knows you personally, he cannot give you a very detailed blessing
  6. You must be at least nineteen years old to receive a patriarchal blessing.
  7. You must have a recommend from your bishop to receive a patriarchal blessing.
  8. Any of your friends should be able to read your patriarchal blessing if they want to.
  9. Studying your patriarchal blessing frequently can inspire you to live a better life and to reach your goals in life.
  10. Your patriarchal blessing will come to pass regardless of what you do.

 

 

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ANSWERS

 

  1. True. Elder LeGrand Richards stated: “If we understand where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going, then we are more likely to reach the desired port. That is really the purpose of a patriarchal blessing, to be able to interpret and reveal to us, through the inspiration of the Almighty, why we are here and what is expected of us” (“Patriarchal Blessings,” New Era, Feb. 1977, p. 4).
  2. True. President James E Faust said: “Generally, one patriarchal blessing is adequate, and second patriarchal blessings are not encouraged.If a worthy member has an important reason for desiring a second patriarchal blessing, the member may discuss it with his or her bishop.”
  3. True. “Every member of the Church belongs to one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Those who aren’t literal descendants are “adopted” into the house of Israel through baptism. Knowing your lineage can be a helpful guide in your life, because belonging to one of the twelve tribes brings the blessings and missions specific to each tribe. The blessings Jacob gave his sons (the heads of each of the tribes) can be found in Genesis 49.“ (“About Patriarchal Blessings, New Era, March 2004)
  4. False. President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: “A faithful father who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood may bless his own children, and that would be a patriarchal (father’s) blessing. Such a blessing could be recorded in the family records, but it would not be preserved in the archives of the Church. Every father who is true to this priesthood is a patriarch over his own house. In addition, children may receive a blessing by an ordained patriarch. A father blessing his own child could, if he received the inspiration to do so, declare the lineage of the child” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56], 3:172).A father would usually not declare lineage, although he has that right if he is inspired to do so, while an ordained patriarch nearly always declares lineage. Also, only the blessing given by the ordained patriarch will be recorded by the Church.
  5. False. Patriarchal blessings come from the Lord, not from the patriarch.
  6. False. There is no set age but you should be old enough to appreciate the sacred nature of the blessing.
  7. True. When you feel that you are ready to receive a patriarchal blessing, you should talk with your bishop or branch president.
  8. False. Patriarchal blessings are personal and sacred. They should be kept in a safe place and not passed around or discussed too freely. They are meant for our own benefit. However, we may wish to share them with members of our family at appropriate times, as we are directed by the Spirit.
  9. True. “Studying your patriarchal blessing frequently, especially in times of decision or trial or depression, will quickly remind you and give you the vision of who you really are and what your relationship with God is, and especially what his will for you is. It can comfort you when you feel unloved and unworthy and inadequate or forgotten. It can point you toward your own special purpose in life” (Elaine A. Cannon, “Season of Awakening,”New Era, July 1981, p. 10).
  10. False. The blessings a patriarch gives are conditional. They come to us on conditions of our obedience to God and his laws. As with most blessings from the Lord, we must live worthily to receive them.
Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015, New Testament

Gospel Doctrine 2015 – Lesson 38 – “Thou Hast Testified of Me”

  1. Paul reports on his journeys and faces an angry mob in Jerusalem.

Acts 21:10 And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judæa a certain prophet, named Agabus.

 11 And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.

‘Paul told the Ephesians that the church of Jesus Christ was built upon a foundation of apostles and prophets, with the Savior himself as the chief cornerstone. Who were the prophets of that day? The Twelve were included, of course. But were there others? The New Testament tells us that there were. Silas and Barnabas were two of them, and both were great missionaries of that time. Others were Simeon and Lucius; also a man named Judas—he was not Iscariot. Likewise mentioned are Manaen and Agabus, who predicted the arrest of Paul. ‘ (Mark E Peterson, General Conference, October 1972)

 Acts 21:12 And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.

‘For the first time the courage even of the Apostle’s companions began to fail, and St. Luke admits that he himself had joined in the entreaty. Could not they, who were less known, and therefore in less danger, go up without him, pay over the fund that had been collected among the Gentiles to St. James and the elders, and return to him at Cæsarea?’ (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

Acts 21:17 And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly.

 18 And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present.

 19 And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.

‘James, the Lord’s brother, was the presiding authority in Jerusalem at the time. Likely, Peter and John were on missions preaching the gospel. James, the son of Zebedee had already been martyred (Acts 12:2). The context of events in Acts indicates that James, the Lord’s brother, took his spot in the First Presidency of the early church. He apparently played a prominent role in the church at Jerusalem. Although the record does not give us many details, “all ancient ecclesiastical writers agree on this fact, that James, the Lord’s brother, was the first bishop of Jerusalem.” ‘(A. A. Ramseyer, Improvement Era, 1915, Vol. Xviii. No. 12. Oct. 1915)

Acts 21: 20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:

‘The number of converts at this time must have been very great. Twenty-five years before this, 3,000 had been converted at one time, and afterward the number had swelled to some more thousands. The assertion that there were then “many thousands,” implies that the work so signally begun on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem had not ceased, and that many more had been converted to the Christian faith.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 Acts 21:21 And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.

 22 What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.

 23 Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;

 24 Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.

“At least from the days of Moses, both men and women in Israel were privileged to take vows setting themselves apart to serve the Lord in some special way for an appointed period. Such persons, while subject to their vows, were called Nazarites. Frequently the period of penance and pondering and worship and devotion was for thirty days. In the case of Samson it was for life, and John the Baptist is considered by some to have had the same lifetime obligation. As set out in Numbers 6:1-21, those so separating themselves unto the Lord, for whatever period was involved, must abstain from wine and strong drink and the eating of grapes or anything coming from the vine tree. They must let their hair grow and avoid any Levitical uncleanness. At the end of their period of separation, they shaved their heads and offered burnt offerings, sin offerings, peace offerings, and meat and drink offerings, with all their attendant formalities. Even Paul, as a temporizing gesture to the partially converted Jewish-Christians in Jerusalem-and after the law of Moses, including the law of sacrifice and the law of the Nazarite, had been done away-participated in these vows and the offerings made incident thereto. (Acts 21:23-26.)” (Bruce R McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, 1: 261.)

 Acts 21:25 As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.

26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.

 27 And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,

 28 Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place.

 29 (For they had seen before with him in the city Trophimus an Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.)

 30 And all the city was moved, and the people ran together: and they took Paul, and drew him out of the temple: and forthwith the doors were shut.

“Acts and Romans highlight Paul’s inspired worries about returning to Jerusalem…In Jerusalem Paul met with James, the only apostle then there, and James counseled Paul to soften Jewish prejudice by accompanying some men in purification rituals in the temple. The principled Paul saw in this no basic conflict with his Christianity. As a Christian, he believed in the reality of God’s past revelations to Israel, though he considered temple sacrifices not essential to salvation. Since Jews from Ephesus had seen Paul with a Gentile from their city, they angrily accused Paul in the temple of bringing a Gentile there. The inscription has been found that stood at the gates within the broad court of the Gentiles. Just as Josephus says, it forbids any Gentile to proceed past the separating wall of the inner enclosure: ‘Whoever is caught will have himself to blame for his death, which will follow.’

“The shouts went up that Paul had ‘brought Greeks’ into the temple and had ‘polluted this holy place’ (Acts 21:28). In the menacing mob, whatever Paul said was unheard as he was pushed through the outer gate and given the first blows of an intended deadly beating. But the Roman garrison was trained to stop such riots before they spread, and they moved fast enough to save the apostle’s life. Fortunately for Paul, he had been assaulted in the temple, for the Roman fortress Antonia loomed above the temple on the north with watchtowers high enough to see the first disturbance.” (Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul, 230 – 231.)

 Acts 21:36 For the multitude of the people followed after, crying, Away with him.

‘It was a rule among the Jews, that any uncircumcised person who came within the separating wall, mentioned above, might be stoned to death without any further process. And they seemed to think Paul, who, as they supposed, had brought such in thither, deserved no better treatment. ‘(Benson Commentary)

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  1. Paul is taken before the Sanhedrin.

Acts 22:22 And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live.

“…the multitude ‘were cut to the heart’ when Stephen accused them of rejecting what had been brought ‘by the disposition of angels’ (Acts 7:53-54). But the last straw was when he had the effrontery to say, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him’ (Acts 7:56-58). If Stephen had spent his life, as innumerable philosophers have, denouncing the vices and follies of the age, he might have died peacefully in bed. But those fatal words, ‘I see,’ were his death warrant. And what did Paul say to make the Jews cry out in utter horror: ‘Away with such a fellow from the earth: for it is not fit that he should live,’ as ‘they . . . cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air?’ (Acts 22:22-23.) What indeed? These were the unforgivable words that made him unfit to live: ‘Suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest’ (Acts 22:6-8). Paul could have won his audience over by speaking as a scholar, but when he bore witness to what he had seen and heard, he was asking for trouble.” (Hugh Nibley, The World and the Prophets,3rd ed., 14 – 15.)

Acts 22:24 The chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging; that he might know wherefore they cried so against him.

‘The matter-of-course way in which this is narrated illustrates the ordinary process of Roman provincial administration. The chiliarch had probably only partially understood St. Paul’s Aramaic speech, and his first impulse was to have him scourged, so as to elicit from his own lips that which he could not gather from the confused and contradictory clamours of the crowd.’ (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

Acts 22:25 And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?

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 26 When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman.

“How Paul’s family acquired citizenship interests biographers, but there are no firm answers to this secondary issue. Likely someone had given Rome needed support in influence or money, which focuses on what citizenship tells about Paul and what it did for him. Like education, citizenship was a social distinction reaching down to the upper middle class in the first century. Citizenship protected Paul in his ministry, as we have just seen when Paul successfully demanded a fair hearing before punishment. Earlier in northern Greece he was beaten under protest but successfully demanded an official apology (Acts 16:37-39). Such confrontations suggest that Paul’s effectiveness in any city stemmed partly from his confidence in fair protection of the law. Another feature of Roman citizenship is known to a generation that has seen the U.S. Supreme Court overturn local courts to uphold civil and criminal rights. Provincial governors could be brought to account for unfairness, and thus Paul was allowed an appeal to Rome after his Jerusalem arrest.” (Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul, 20 – 21.)

Acts 23:1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.

‘I have conducted myself so as to maintain a good conscience. I have done what I believed to be right. This was a bold declaration, after the tumult, and charges, and accusations of the previous day.’ (Barnes Notes on the Bible)

Acts 23:11 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.

“When Paul was in jail after having borne his testimony before a powerful political group in Jerusalem, Jesus stood by and counseled him to ‘be of good cheer.’ Why? Had not Paul been struck on the mouth at Ananias’s order? Were not forty Jews plotting his death? Did not his trial for sedition lie just ahead? And also Paul’s shipwreck? Cheerfulness was possible because Paul had done well in his ministry in Jerusalem and now was ready for Rome, where he would also testify with great power and persuasive authority. Let the intervening, tactical tribulation come!

“This lesson about justifiable cheerfulness even amid perilous passages apparently had been driven home to Paul, for during his voyage to Rome, he assured his fearful shipmates that not one of them would lose their lives, though their ship would be lost. Therefore, He encouraged them to ‘be of good cheer’ in the midst of their anxieties, and his prophecy was fulfilled. (Acts 27:22)

“It remains for us, therefore, to be of good cheer even when…current circumstances seem hopeless…

“It may seem to some of us so very hard to cling to…reassuring and renewing realities when tribulations and difficulties press in upon us from all sides. But these are the realities to which we will-and should-finally cling in the moments of truth. Why not, therefore, said Jesus, profit from good cheer at the outset and throughout each day, rather than finally relying upon it anyway-but only after unneeded anxiety?” (Neal A Maxwell, Even As I Am, 100-101)

  1. Paul testifies to Agrippa, but his testimony is rejected.

 Acts 26:4 My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;

 5 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.

‘Paul was a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee and he was educated by Gamaliel, a Pharisee. On three different occasions he declared himself to be a member of the sect. The first was at the time he was on trial, then in his plea before Agrippa, and later in writing to the Philippians. This training as a Pharisee made him an extremist in his devotion to the Jewish law, which answers the question as to why he was such a zealous persecutor of the Christians prior to his experience on Damascus Road.’ (Howard W Hunter, General Conference, April 1984)

Acts 26: 8 Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?

“…as Paul testified of the resurrection, Festus interrupted him and ‘said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad’ (Acts 26:24).

“As the above passages illustrate, the doctrine of the resurrection, concerning which the prophets have taught and testified, is simply not congruent with the learning and the philosophies of the world. The resurrection is something to which the world cannot relate empirically; it has to be understood by faith and by the Holy Ghost. Consequently it is not readily accepted or believed in the world. Paul’s magnificent statement about the resurrection recorded in 1 Cor. 15 apparently was written to convince the intellectuals of his day, those who trusted in reason, that the resurrection was logical, scriptural, and necessary. He said that his knowledge of the resurrection came by revelation but that the doctrine was reasonable even so. The testimony of the scriptures and of the Holy Spirit is that the resurrection of Jesus, and eventually of all mankind, is literal, historical, and factual truth. It really did happen to Jesus, it has already happened to many, and it will yet happen to many more.” (Robert J. Matthews, A Bible! A Bible!, 199.)

Acts 26: 9 I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

‘”I thought that I owed it to my country, to my religion, and to my God, to oppose in every manner the claims of Jesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah.” We here see that Paul was conscientious, and that a man may be conscientious even when engaged in enormous wickedness. It is no evidence that one is right because he is conscientious. No small part of the crimes against human laws, and almost all the cruel persecutions against Christians, have been carried on under the plea of conscience. Paul here refers to his conscientiousness in persecution to show that it was no slight matter which could have changed his course. As he was governed in persecution by conscience, it could have been only by a force of demonstration, and by the urgency of conscience equally clear and strong, that he could ever have been induced to abandon this course and to become a friend of that Saviour whom he had thus persecuted.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 Acts 26:10 Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.

 11 And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.

 12 Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,

 13 At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.

 14 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

“Critics love to dwell on supposed inconsistencies in Joseph Smith’s spontaneous accounts of his first vision. But people normally give shorter and longer accounts of their own vivid experiences when retelling them more than once. Joseph Smith was cautious about public explanations of his sacred experiences until the Church grew strong and could properly publicize what God had given him. Thus, his most detailed first vision account came after several others-when he began his formal history.

“This, too, parallels Paul’s experience. His most detailed account of the vision on the road to Damascus is the last of several recorded. (See Acts 26:9-20.) And this is the only known instance in which he related the detail about the glorified Savior prophesying Paul’s work among the Gentiles. (See Acts 26:16-18.) Why would Paul include this previously unmentioned detail only on that occasion? Probably because he was speaking to a Gentile audience, rather than to a group of Jewish Christians. Both Paul and Joseph Smith had reasons for delaying full details of their visions until the proper time and place.” (Richard Lloyd Anderson, “Parallel Prophets: Paul and Joseph Smith,” Ensign, Apr. 1985, 12)

Acts 26: 20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judæa, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

 21 For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.

 22 Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:

 23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.

 24 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.

“Prophets can be dismissed or discounted in many ways. If their faults can be focused upon, their message can be dismissed. Or, if they can be labeled, they need not be listened to (winebibber, Sabbath breaker, unlearned, ignorant, and so forth). Or, if they can be denigrated in some other way, their message can be discounted.” (Neal A Maxwell, Sermons Not Spoken, 46.)

Acts 26: 25 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.

 26 For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.

‘Was not done in a corner – Did not occur secretly and obscurely, but was public, and was of such a character as to attract attention. The conversion of a leading persecutor, such as Paul had been, and in the manner in which that conversion had taken place, could not but attract attention and remark; and although the Jews would endeavor as much as possible to conceal it, yet Paul might presume that it could not be entirely unknown to Agrippa.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

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 Acts 26:27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.

 28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuades me to be a Christian.

“We were back East a short time ago and a good bishop made an interesting comment about what he called the saddest words that he knows of a man in high station. He read from the words in the days of the Apostle Paul when Paul before King Agrippa had borne his powerful testimony of his conversion. King Agrippa’s reply was, ‘Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.’ (Acts 26:28.) Then the bishop said, ‘The king knew the truth but he lacked the courage to do that which would be required; and he could only say then, ‘Almost thou persuadest,’ almost persuaded under certain circumstances to do the thing the Lord would want him to do.’

“And then he characterized some things that he discovered in his own ward in a short but powerful sermon. ‘In response to the Master, `Come . . . follow me’ (Mark 10:21), some members almost,’ he said, ‘but not quite, say, `thou persuadest me almost to be honest but I need extra help to pass a test.’ You young people in the choir might think of that.

“‘Almost thou persuadest me to keep the Sabbath day holy, but it’s fun to play ball on Sunday.

“Almost thou persuadest me to love my neighbor, but he is a rascal; to be tolerant of others’ views, but they are dead wrong; to be kind to sister, but she hit me first; to go home teaching but it’s so cold and damp outside tonight; to pay tithes and offerings, but we do need a new color TV set; to find the owner of a lost watch, but no one returned the watch I lost; to pass the Sacrament, but I’ve graduated from the deacons now, almost thou persuadest me to be reverent, but I had to tell my pal about my date last night; almost thou persuadest me to attend stake leadership meeting, but I know more than the leader on that subject, so why should I go. Thou persuadest me almost to go to Sacrament meeting but there is going to be such an uninteresting speaker tonight. Almost! Almost! Almost! but not quite, not able quite to reach.” (Harold B Lee, Conference Report, April 1964, Afternoon Meeting 24.)

  1. Paul is shipwrecked on his way to Rome.

Acts 26:32 Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Cæsar.

‘The decision to which Agrippa came showed the wisdom of the line which St. Paul had taken. The matter could not be hushed up nor got rid of. The authorities could not now free themselves from responsibility for the safe custody of the prisoner, and, by releasing him, expose his life to the conspiracies of the Jews; and thus the Apostle at last gained that safe journey to the imperial city which had for many years been the great desire of his heart.’ (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

Acts 27: 13 And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete.

 14 But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon.

 15 And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive.

Fearing that fierce winds would overturn the ship, the crew takes down the sails, allowing the ship to be driven before the tempest. Later (v. 17), they would raise the sails attempting to avoid getting stuck in shallow water by the island of Clauda. “Historians of Rome have long noted that Luke’s description of this exciting journey is one of the most important primary sources available on ancient seamanship. Students of Paul’s life cannot help but be impressed with his spiritual leadership and unfailing trust in the Lord under the most trying circumstances.” (C. Wilfred Griggs, “Paul: The Long Road from Damascus,” Ensign, Sept. 1975, 57)

 Acts 27:16 And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat:

 17 Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven.

‘undergirding the ship—that is, passing four or five turns of a cable-laid rope round the hull or frame of the ship, to enable her to resist the violence of the seas’ (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary)

 Acts 27: 18 And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship;

‘The next day they lightened the ship.—St. Luke uses the technical term for throwing the bulk of the cargo overboard.’ (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

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 Acts 27:19 And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship.

 20 And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away.

‘As they could see neither sun nor stars, they could make no observations; and as they had no compass, they would be totally ignorant of their situation, and they gave up all as lost.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Acts 27:21 But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.

 22 And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship.

“This lesson about justifiable cheerfulness even amid perilous passages apparently had been driven home to Paul, for during his voyage to Rome, he assured his fearful shipmates that not one of them would lose their lives, though their ship would be lost. Therefore, He encouraged them to ‘be of good cheer’ in the midst of their anxieties, and his prophecy was fulfilled.

“It remains for us, therefore, to be of good cheer even when…current circumstances seem hopeless.” (Neal A Maxwell, Even As I Am, 101.)

Acts 27: 23 For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,

 24 Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Cæsar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.

‘Even in times of great danger, moral or physical, when, like the Apostle Paul, you may be in danger of “shipwreck” either to your body or your soul, there can be standing by you, as there was by him, after fasting and prayer, an angel of God who whispered peace to his soul’ (Harold B Lee, General Conference, October 1966)

 25 Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.

 26 Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.

‘This had clearly formed part of the special revelation that had been granted to the Apostle. It was more than a conjecture, and the “must” was emphasised as by a prophetic insight into the future.’ (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

Posted in Inspirational, LDS Doctrine

Explaining the War in Heaven

I love this story from Carlfred Broderick, a former stake president and professor of marriage and family therapy.

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There was an LDS family he knew who needed help with a wayward teen but they lived on the opposite side of the city, so he sent them to another therapist (who happened to be Jewish) who was a friend who he trusted:

After only a couple of weeks, I got a call from my friend. ‘Carl, I need some help with this couple you referred to me.’ ‘What’s the problem? They probably just need to loosen up the parental iron fist a little.’ ‘That’s right. If they don’t, this kid is about to run away from home or attempt suicide or do something else drastic. But, Carl, every time I suggest any movement in the direction of loosening up, they patiently explain to me that I just don’t understand their religious obligation, as Mormon parents, to keep this kid in line. Frankly, I don’t know how to deal with this. I don’t want to attack their religious beliefs, but the situation is explosive.’

I thought a moment and then said, ‘Here’s what you do. First, tell them that during the time you have been working with them, you have developed a real curiosity about the Mormon religion. This will serve to get their attention. Then say that there is one issue that keeps coming up when you ask about it that has you mystified. You keep hearing about some ‘war in heaven,’ but you can never quite figure out what it is about.’ ‘That’s it? I just ask them to explain the ‘war in heaven’?’ ‘That’s it.’ ‘Carl, what’s the war in heaven?’ ‘It doesn’t matter; just do what I said and let me know how it goes.’

A few days later he called. ‘Carl, I can’t believe it. I did what you said, and it was like magic.’ ‘So tell me about the session.’ ‘Well, as you suggested, I told them that since I started working with them I had gotten sort of interested in the Mormon religion. You wouldn’t believe the response. Even the rebellious teenage kid promised to give me a copy of some book on the Church with the family picture in the front. Then I said there was just one thing that kind of confused me about their beliefs. . . . What was this war in heaven? Well, the mom didn’t as much as take a minute to collect her thoughts. In seconds she had launched into some story about a council in heaven and two plans and she gets about three minutes into it and she stops cold in her tracks and gives me a funny look and says, ‘All right, Doctor, you’ve made your point.’ From that moment on they were like putty in my hands. It was like magic.’ . . . Of course, there was no magic. This good LDS woman simply had the unnerving experience of explaining Satan’s plan to an ‘investigator’ and, in the midst of her explanation, recognizing it as substantially her own version of responsible Mormon parenting as she had outlined it to him the week before. She understood the gospel principle fully; she just had been blinded to its applicability to her everyday challenges as a parent.’

Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015, Jesus Christ, New Testament

Gospel Doctrine 2015 – Lesson 37 – Jesus Christ: “The Author and Finisher of Our Faith”

  1. Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of Heavenly Father, is our Savior.

Hebrews 1:4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they

‘The heavens may be full of angels, but they are not like the Son of God’ (Spencer W Kimball, General Conference, October 1975)

Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than theangels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

‘Who was made a little lower than the angels. – That is, as a man, or when on earth. His assumed rank was inferior to that of the angels.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Hebrews 2:10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

“‘Stick with the old ship,’ as the person who was about to apostatize was told by an unseen speaker. Stick with the old ship. It will see you safely through. You may think it is out of date. It is out of date, thank goodness, as compared with some of these modern trends of permissiveness. But before you depart from those plain, simple doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ, be sure that you know in which direction you are going, and will listen to those who preside in authority over you. I bear you that witness and leave you my testimony.” (Ye Are the Light of the World: Selected Sermons and Writings of Harold B. Lee [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974], chap. 41)

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Hebrews 2:16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.

 2:17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

“One of the reasons Christ descended from his divine throne to become as we are was to establish a pattern for us to follow. He demonstrated that we can indeed keep the commandments and overcome the trials and temptations of life. It is of immeasurable worth to millions who have suffered trials and temptations or have experienced sorrow in their mortal existence to know that there is One who has suffered and sorrowed more. He not only has overcome adversity, but he empathizes with those who are still struggling to learn how.” (Kent P. Jackson, “The Eternal Ministry of Christ,” Ensign, Jan. 1991, 8)

 Hebrews 2:18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

‘He is the Prince of Peace—the ultimate Comforter. As such He has power to comfort an anguished heart pierced by sorrow or sin. He provides a special kind of peace that no human agency can provide:

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

He is the Good Shepherd. He possesses all the attributes of the divine nature of God. He is virtuous, patient, kind, long-suffering, gentle, meek, and charitable. If we are weak or deficient in any of these qualities, He stands willing to strengthen and compensate.

He is a Wonderful Counselor. Indeed there is no human condition—be it suffering, incapacity, inadequacy, mental deficiency, or sin—which He cannot comprehend or for which His love will not reach out to the individual.’ Ezra Taft Benson, General Conference, October 1983)

Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

‘Our High Priest is not cold and unfeeling. That is, we have one who is abundantly qualified to sympathize with us in our afflictions, and to whom, therefore, we may look for aid and support in trials. Had we a high priest who was cold and heartless; who simply performed the external duties of his office without entering into the sympathies of those who came to seek for pardon; who had never experienced any trials, and who felt himself above those who sought his aid, we should necessarily feel disheartened in attempting to overcome our sins, and to live to God. His coldness would repel us; his stateliness would awe us; his distance and reserve would keep us away, and perhaps render us indifferent to all desire to be saved. But tenderness and sympathy attract those who are feeble, and kindness does more than anything else to encourage those who have to encounter difficulties and dangers. Such tenderness and sympathy has our Great High Priest.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

“[Speaking of Heb. 4:16] Now, that is the invitation to come to Him when we are faced with problems too much for human skill or for human wisdom, and we will thereby find the answer more divine than human intelligence can understand…

“Those timeless words should be written upon the tablets of our hearts: to likewise give us courage to withstand in our time of need.” (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 129, 190.)

Hebrews 3: 12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

 13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

‘Days of temptation are often days of provocation. But to provoke God, when he is letting us see that we entirely depend and live upon him, is a provocation indeed. The hardening of the heart is the spring of all other sins.’ (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)

 Hebrews 3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end;

 15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

“Camped in the hot, waterless wilderness of southern Palestine, the Israelites challenged Moses, saying, ‘Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?’ (Exodus 17:3). This complaint might have been understandable had these people never seen the hand of God in their lives, but this incident occurred after the miraculous Passover, after their passage through the Red Sea dry shod, and after the outpouring of manna and quail from heaven. In response to the Israelites’ faithlessness, an exasperated Moses cried out to the Lord, ‘What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me’ (Exodus 17:4). The Lord answered: ‘Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah’ (Exodus 17:6-7).

“Psalm 95 provides the linguistic link that identifies this incident as the Provocation: (quotes Psalm 95:7-11; Heb. 3:8-15).

“The event at Meribah is the Provocation mentioned throughout the Bible. In that incident, the Lord tested the faith of the children of Israel and their willingness to accept his love and grace. Grace is the Lord’s divine enabling power, given to humankind to help them with all the challenges of their lives; grace ultimately empowers them to lay hold on heaven itself. But the Israelites’ response to the Lord’s abundant generosity illustrates a religious paradox: God offers his children grace, but the children will not seek it; God offers his children heaven, but the children will not enter in.” (M. Catherine Thomas, Thy People Shall Be My People and Thy God My God: The 22d Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 167.)

  1. The Melchizedek Priesthood is part of the fulness of the gospel.

Hebrews 5:1 For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:

“Under the law of Moses the presiding officer of the Aaronic Priesthood was called the high priest. The office was hereditary and came through the firstborn among the family of Aaron, Aaron himself being the first high priest of the Aaronic order…

“The high priest’s main duties, in addition to the duties of a regular priest, were to perform the service of the Day of Atonement; to inquire God’s will by the Urim and Thummim in the breastplate of his office; and to offer sacrifices on Sabbaths, new moons, and yearly festivals. He also had to offer a meat offering twice daily for himself (Lev. 6:19-23).” (Bible Dictionary: High Priest)

Hebrews 5:2 Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.

‘The high priest is taken from among men, in order that he may have a fellow-feeling for those on whose behalf he officiates. Sensible of his own ignorance, he is able to sympathize with those who are ignorant; and compassed about with infirmity, he is able to succour those who have like infirmities.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 Hebrews 5:3 And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.

 4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

“When the Lord taught his ancient Apostles, he said, ‘Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you’ (John 15:16). This short statement is a fundamental principle of the Lord’s true church. People do not have the right to call themselves to act in God’s name. Neither a desire to serve nor a love of God and fellowman-however heartfelt and sincere-authorizes one to claim God’s authority in matters relating to his church. Scriptural precedent shows that when God has true servants on earth, the call comes through them, his representatives.

“The New Testament teaches, ‘No man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron’ (Heb. 5:4). The Lord’s authorized servant, Moses, learned by revelation that it was God’s will that Aaron serve (see Ex. 28:1). Accordingly, Moses called and consecrated him (see Ex. 40:12-16, Lev. 8:9-13).” (Kent P. Jackson, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, Feb. 1995, 62)

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Hebrews 5:5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.

6 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

“What kind of a man was this Melchizedek? …The Joseph Smith Translation provides an additional 16 verses in Genesis 14 (Gen. 14:25-40) …As a child Melchizedek had such faith as to stop the mouths of lions and quench the violence of fire (see also JST, Heb. 5:7). He was ordained a high priest after the order of the Son of God. He was a prophet like unto Enoch who had power through his faith over the elements, over the nations of the earth, and the power to stand in the presence of God ‘by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world’ (JST, Gen. 14:31). In addition to his biblical title ‘King of peace’ (Heb. 7:2), in the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 14:33 [Gen. 14:33] we learn Melchizedek was called by his people ‘the Prince of peace,’ another title identifying him as a type foreshadowing the ministry of Jesus Christ.” (David Rolph Seely, “The Joseph Smith Translation: ‘Plain and Precious Things’ Restored,” Ensign, Aug. 1997, 14)

 Hebrews 6:20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

‘He left the Priesthood on the earth with his Apostles. They officiated in it until they were put to death. It is by that power that we administer in this day and generation.’ (Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses)

 Hebrews 7:11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

‘From the inferiority of the Levitical priesthood to the priesthood of Melchisedec, just proved, it followed that the former was imperfect and incapable of leading to perfection.’ (Meyer’s NT Commentary)

  1. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the new covenant between God and his children.

Hebrews 8: 5 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.

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‘We have an organization that was planned and ordained by the Almighty. We have the First Presidency—President Brigham Young, set apart by God to occupy the position that he does, and his Counsel. Who told men about such an organization as this? God. What did we know about it till then? Nothing. Who knew about the organization of the Twelve? Nobody. Who knew about an organization of High Priests?  Nobody, yet they had them in various ages of the world, according to the record that we have. Who knew about an organization of Seventies, and of the various Quorums of the Priesthood, and the duties that should devolve upon them? Nobody. Who knew about the organization of Bishops? Nobody. Have they not got Bishops? Yes, but they are not in the right place, and they are not bishops, they call them so, but they are not bishops. I remember introducing brother Hunter to a gentleman in Provo. “Mr. So and So,” said I, “this is Bishop Hunter, our presiding Bishop here. In England you have your lords spiritual, but,” said I, “this is our lord temporal, and he attends to the affairs of our bread and cheese,” &c. But elsewhere their bishops are made spiritual officers, which Bishops were never intended for. Who knew anything about other organizations of the Priesthood that we have, such as Elders, Priests, Teachers, Deacons, and their various duties? Nobody. Where did this originate? With God. Where is the pattern? In the heavens. When will this Priesthood cease? Never. It originated with God, and when we get through with the affairs of time you will find just the same organization, the same Priesthood, the same power, the same principles that exist here. Why? Because the things which exist in the Church of God here are patterns of those which exist in the heavens. God said to Moses—“See that thou make all things according to the pattern that I showed thee in the mount.”  The pattern that we have is a pattern of that which exists in the heavens, the organization of the Priesthood that will exist throughout eternity. And these are heavenly things committed to us in the flesh for our benefit, and for the benefit of the world that we live in. It is not to save or bless me or my family alone, or you and your family alone; but it is to bless and save all who will avail themselves thereof, who have ever lived, and all who live now or ever will live.’ (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses)

  1. Those who exercise faith in Jesus Christ will inherit a place in the kingdom of God.

Hebrews 10:19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,

20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

“The entrance of the high priest into the Holy of Holies and his passing through the sacred veil of the temple was a type for that future day when the Son of God would rend the veil to enter the heavenly temple and stand in the presence of God. Having satisfied the demands of justice through his atoning sacrifice, Christ could now commence his great work of mercy and mediation in behalf of all whose labors attested that they had accepted him. By virtue of his mercy and grace, the faithful of all ages could now also enter into the holiest place. ‘So now, my friends,’ Paul explained, ‘the blood of Jesus makes us free to enter boldly into the sanctuary by the new, living way which he has opened for us through the curtain, the way of his flesh. We have, moreover, a great priest set over the household of God; so let us make our approach in sincerity of heart and full assurance of faith, our guilty hearts sprinkled clean, our bodies washed with pure water.’ (Heb. 10:19-22, New English Bible.)

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 “The purpose of the atonement was to remove the effects of the Fall whereby men were cast out of the presence of God. Through his sacrifice, Christ opened the door through which we might return to the divine presence.” (Joseph F. McConkie in Studies in Scripture, Vol. 6: Acts to Revelation, ed. by Robert L. Millet, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 199 – 200.)

Hebrews 10: 21 And having an high priest over the house of God;

‘ high priest—As a different Greek term (archiereus) is used always elsewhere in this Epistle for “high priest,” translate as Greek here, “A Great Priest”; one who is at once King and “Priest on His throne” (Zec 6:13); a royal Priest, and a priestly King.’ (Jamieson-Faussett-Brown Bible Commentary)

 Hebrews 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

‘The Jewish cleansing or sprinkling with blood related only to what was external, and could not make the conscience perfect, but the sacrifice offered by the Saviour was designed to give peace to the troubled mind, and to make it pure and holy. An “evil conscience” is a consciousness of evil, or a conscience oppressed with sin; that is, a conscience that accuses of guilt. We are made free from such a conscience through the atonement of Jesus, not because we become convinced that we have not committed sin, and not because we are led to suppose that our sins are less than we had otherwise supposed – for the reverse of both these is true – but because our sins are forgiven, and since they are freely pardoned they no longer produce remorse and the fear of future wrath’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

‘In the last words there is a clear allusion to baptism, as the symbol of the new life of purity’ (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

“…faith makes us confident of what we hope for and convinced of what we do not see. The scientist does not see molecules, atoms, or electrons, yet he knows they exist. He does not see electricity, radiation, or magnetism, but he knows these are unseen realities. In like manner, those who earnestly seek for God do not see him, but they know of his reality by faith. It is more than hope. Faith makes it a conviction-an evidence of things not seen.” (Howard W Hunter, “To Know God,” Ensign, Nov. 1974, 97)

Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

 5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

 6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

 7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

 8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:

 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

 11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

 12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

‘Important components of faith are patience, long-suffering, and enduring to the end. The Apostle Paul recounts the faith of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sara, concluding that “these all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” These faithful Saints knew that this earth life was a journey, not their final destination.’ (Spencer J Condie, General Conference, October 2007)

Hebrews 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,

‘and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son;  – he had a promise made him that he should have a son, and that a numerous issue should spring from him, which should inherit the land of Canaan; yea, that the Messiah himself should be of his seed: and he had received these promises; given credit to them, and firmly believed them, and fully expected the performance of them; as he had reason to do, since the first was fulfilled, the son was born; and yet now he is called to offer him up, on whom his expectation was placed; everything was trying; it was an human creature he was called to offer, whose blood is not to be shed by man; a child of his own, a part of himself; a son, an own son; an only begotten son; a son whom he loved; an Isaac, a son of joy; a son of promise; and his heir, the son of his old age, and who was now a grown up person. The Jews are divided about the age of Isaac at his binding: Josephus says he was twenty five years of age; others say twenty six; some say thirty six: but the more prevailing opinion is that he was thirty seven years of age; only Aben Ezra makes him to be about thirteen; rejecting the more commonly received account, as well as that he was but five years old, that being an age unfit to carry wood. Some Christian writers have thought he might be about three and thirty years of age, the age of Christ when he suffered, of whom he was a type.’ Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

Hebrews 11:26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.

‘Throughout the whole of their history the people of Israel were the people of the Christ. Their national existence originated in the promise to Abraham, which was a promise of the Christ; and till the fulness of time should come their mission was to prepare the way for Him. The reproach which Moses accepted by joining the people of the promise was, therefore, “the reproach of the Christ,” the type of that “reproach” which in later days His people will share with Him. He who was to appear in the last days as the Messiah was already in the midst of Israel’ (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

 Hebrews 11:27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

“Reared and taught amid all the wealth, splendor, and influence of Pharaoh’s court; having at his command the prestige and power of the royal household; knowing he was assured of a life of ease and affluence-yet Moses, because of faith in Christ, chose to suffer with slaves and bondsmen of his own race rather than to accept the honors, wealth, and power of the greatest nation then on earth.” (Bruce R McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 3: 213.)

 Hebrews 11:28 Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.

‘The Lord sent forth the destroyer in ancient times to lay waste the firstborn of the Egyptians, pointing out the means by which his people might escape, and those who failed to do as they were commanded had no promise of being preserved; so in these days when judgments come, they will begin among his Saints, and those who have not attended to the word of wisdom and the laws of life that he has pointed out and have no claim to mercy and favor, God is no respecter of persons. They who have great light and yet sin will endure tribulation and indignation from his hand unless they repent.’ (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses)

Hebrews 11: 29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.

‘Which the Egyptians assaying to do, were drowned – Evidently referred to here as showing the effects of not having faith in God, and of what must inevitably have befallen the Israelites if they had had no faith. The destruction of the Egyptians by the return of the waters in accordance with natural laws, showed that the Israelites would have been destroyed in the passage if a divine energy had not been employed to prevent it.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 Hebrews 11:30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.

 31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

 32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

 33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

“Remember that Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and others could not see clearly the end from the beginning. They also walked by faith and without sight…But know this, that just as undaunted faith has stopped the mouths of lions, made ineffective fiery flames, opened dry corridors through rivers and seas, protected against deluge and drought, and brought heavenly manifestations at the instance of prophets, so in each of our lives faith can heal the sick, bring comfort to those who mourn, strengthen resolve against temptation, relieve from the bondage of harmful habits, lend the strength to repent and change our lives, and lead to a sure knowledge of the divinity of Jesus Christ. Indomitable faith can help us live the commandments with a willing heart and thereby bring blessings unnumbered, with peace, perfection, and exaltation in the kingdom of God.” (Spencer W Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972], 12.)

 Hebrews 11:34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

‘Quenched the violence of fire – As Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did. “Escaped the edge of the sword.” As Elijah did when he fled from Ahab, as Elijah did when he was delivered from the king of Syria,; and as David did when he fled from Saul.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015, Jesus Christ, New Testament

Gospel Doctrine 2015 – Lesson 36 – “Beloved of God, Called to Be Saints”

  1. We are justified by faith in Jesus Christ.

Romans 3: 10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

‘In the Hebrew Psa 14:2, God is represented as looking down from heaven to see, that is, to make investigation, whether there were any that understood or sought after him. This circumstance gives not only high poetic beauty to the passage, but deep solemnity and awfulness. God, the searcher of hearts, is represented as making investigation on this very point. He looks down from heaven for this very purpose, to ascertain whether there were any righteous. In the Hebrew it is not asserted, though it is clearly and strongly implied, that none such were found. ‘ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 

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 Romans 3:12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

“…as President Ezra Taft Benson observed, people do not yearn for salvation in Christ until they know why they need Christ, which thing they cannot know until they understand and acknowledge the Fall and its effects upon all mankind. The atonement of Jesus Christ is inextricably and eternally tied to the Fall of Adam and Eve. To attempt to offer the solution without a knowledge of the problem is to teach the Atonement in the abstract, to lessen its impact, to mitigate its transforming power in the lives of men and women. Thus it is that the Apostle Paul began at the beginning; he laid stress where it needed to be. Quoting the Psalmist, he affirmed: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one’ (Romans 3:10-12; see also Psalm 14:1-3; 53:1-3).” (Robert L. Millet, Selected Writings of Robert L. Millet: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2000], 70.)

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

‘Because we have all “sinned, and come short of the glory of God” and because “there cannot any unclean thing enter into the kingdom of God,” every one of us is unworthy to return to God’s presence.

Even if we were to serve God with our whole souls, it is not enough, for we would still be “unprofitable servants.” We cannot earn our way into heaven; the demands of justice stand as a barrier, which we are powerless to overcome on our own.

But all is not lost.

The grace of God is our great and everlasting hope.

Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the plan of mercy appeases the demands of justice “and [brings] about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.” Our sins, though they may be as scarlet, can become white as snow. Because our beloved Savior “gave himself a ransom for all,” an entrance into His everlasting kingdom is provided unto us. The gate is unlocked!’ (Dieter F Uchtdorf, General Conference, April 2015)

Romans 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

“Martin Luther and some of the other early Reformers were impressed by Paul’s Epistle to the Romans in which he wrote: ‘Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law’ (Rom. 3:28). Luther felt so strongly about the importance of faith expressed in this verse that he translated it into German with a word added-‘justified by faith alone.’ This, of course, created a great controversy among the Catholic theologians of the day, who held to the notion that the sacraments or ordinances of the Church were necessary for salvation.

“Legend has it that as Luther was translating the New Testament and came upon James’s epistle, he declared that this epistle was ‘straw,’ for James declared: ‘Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone’ (James 2:17).

“The tension between faith and works, grace and ordinances, is readily resolved in Nephi’s teaching ‘that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do’ (2 Ne. 25:23).” (Spencer J Condie, In Perfect Balance [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1993], 56.)

Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

 2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

‘It is evident that this grace, or enabling power, is accessed by faith. No wonder faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel.’ (Gene R Cook, General Conference, April 1993)

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

‘But God commendeth … – God has exhibited or showed his love in this unusual and remarkable manner.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 Romans 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

 11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

“The word atonement is only found once in the New Testament. It’s found a number of times in the Old Testament, but only once in the New Testament. And it’s not found at all in the Revised Standard Version. They don’t use atonement at all. The word doesn’t even appear in the New Testament. They use instead reconciliation, keeping it quite literal, from reconcilio. Reconciliation means ‘to return and sit down beside somebody again.’ …You return and then you sit down. You sit down by the side of the Lord, and you sit down again because you’ve been there before. It’s reconciliation. It’s redemption. It’s the redeeming. This means buying back something that he had before. We weren’t just created out of nothing, you see. We are returning to his presence. We’ve been there before, and the whole thing is a sense of returning to his presence. That’s what reconciliation is, which is the equivalent of atonement, …[Atonement] is not a Latin word. It’s not a Greek or Hebrew word. Atonement a good old English word, a theological word. At-one-ment, being at-one with the family, to go out no more, as he says, ‘with all our holy fathers, to go no more out.’

“There’s your solid security. You’re home at last. You’re back where you started from, and we hope that you’re back with some added credentials, etc. The only passage [where atonement is found] is in Rom. 5:11 in the New Testament. There in the King James [translation] you’ll find the word is atonement, but now in the Bible they use only reconciliation, which is a good word. We’re reconciled.” (Hugh Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon–Semester 1: Transcripts of Lectures Presented to an Honors Book of Mormon Class at Brigham Young University, 1988–1990 [Provo: FARMS], 214.)

Romans 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

“Does this doctrine of justification by faith, then, dissolve the obligation of the law? If so, it cannot be of God. But away with such a thought, for it does just the reverse.” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary)

  1. We can be reborn and become joint-heirs with Christ.

Romans 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

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“The new life in Christ entails a new energy, a new dynamism, a new source of strength and power. That power is Christ. So often people simply go through the motions, do good and perform their duties, but find little satisfaction in doing so. One Christian writer offered this thought: ‘There are few things quite so boring as being religious, but there is nothing quite so exciting as being a Christian!'” (Robert L. Millet, Selected Writings of Robert L. Millet: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2000], 75 – 76.)

Romans 8:5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

‘The fruits of repentance are sweet. Repentant converts find that the truths of the restored gospel govern their thoughts and deeds, shape their habits, and forge their character. They are more resilient and able to deny themselves of all ungodliness. Moreover, uncontrolled appetite, addiction to pornography or harmful drugs, unbridled passion, carnal desire, unrighteous pride are diminished with complete conversion to the Lord and a determination to serve Him and to emulate His example. Virtue garnishes their thoughts, and self-confidence grows. Tithing is seen as a joyful and protective blessing, not as a duty or a sacrifice. Truth becomes more attractive, and things praiseworthy become more engaging.’ (Russell M Nelson, General Conference, April 2007)

Romans 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

‘Do mortify – Do put to death; do destroy. Sin is mortified when its power is destroyed, and it ceases to be active.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Romans 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

“Then, being children of God, we can see our true destiny. And being thus related to him, as his children, we now see ourselves in an entirely new light-not as the descendants of ape-like creatures living an aimless existence, but as the descendants of Almighty God, with the possibility of becoming like him!

“Now we can understand the true place and dignity of man. Now we can see his infinite potential.

“As members of the family of God, we can know that he has placed us here on earth in a type of school that will help us to become like him, if we are willing to follow the curriculum.” (Mark E Petersen, Conference Report, October 1968, General Priesthood Meeting 100 – 101.)

Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

‘In the theology of the restored church of Jesus Christ, the purpose of mortal life is to prepare us to realize our destiny as sons and daughters of God—to become like Him. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young both taught that “no man … can know himself unless he knows God, and he can not know God unless he knows himself” (in Journal of Discourses, 16:75; see also The Words of Joseph Smith, ed. Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, Provo: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1980, p. 340). The Bible describes mortals as “the children of God” and as “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ”. It also declares that “we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” and that “when he shall appear, we shall be like him”. We take these Bible teachings literally. We believe that the purpose of mortal life is to acquire a physical body and, through the atonement of Jesus Christ and by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel, to qualify for the glorified, resurrected celestial state that is called exaltation or eternal life.’ (Dallin H Oaks, General Conference, April 1995)

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

“I must be careful about what I promise you as you try choosing to be good. It won’t be all roses. President Ezra Taft Benson spent a lifetime trying to be good. Every time I was with him I felt his goodness. As nearly as I could tell, he had used the Savior as his standard about as well as anyone I ever knew. And yet, in his advanced years, life got harder, not easier. In 1989 he expressed a sense of joy that included the edge of reality: ‘I leave you my testimony of the joy of living-of the joys of full gospel living and of going through the Refiner’s fire and the sanctification process that takes place. As the Apostle Paul so well said, `We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.` (Romans 8:28.)’ (“To the Elderly of the Church,” Ensign, November 1989, p. 8.)” (Henry B Eyring, To Draw Closer to God: A Collection of Discourses [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 70.)

Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

‘The love of Christ.—That is to say, the love which Christ has for us, not that which we have for Christ.’ (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

 Romans 8:36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

“There was no lack of certitude on the part of Paul after he had seen a light and heard a voice while en route to Damascus to persecute the Christians. For more than three decades after that, he devoted his time, his strength, his life to the spreading of the gospel of the resurrected Lord. Without regard for personal comfort or safety, he traveled over the known world of his time, declaring that ‘neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Rom. 8:38-39.)

“Executed in Rome, Paul sealed with his death his final testimony of his conviction of the divine sonship of Jesus Christ.

“So it was with the early Christians, thousands upon thousands of them, who suffered imprisonment, torture, and death rather than recant their stated beliefs in the life and resurrection of the Son of God.” (Gordon B Hinckley, “Faith: The Essence of True Religion,” Ensign, Nov. 1981, 6)

  1. We should live as becomes Saints.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

‘Which is your reasonable service; or, which is agreeable to reason; nothing is more reasonable, than that you should devote yourselves to God in this manner.’ (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

“We cannot improve the world if we are conformed to the world (see Rom. 12:2). The gospel represents constancy amid change, not compliant adaptation to changing fashions and trends. Firm followers of Jesus, therefore, will not be mere chameleons-adapting their colors to match the ever-changing circumstances by simply blending in.” (Neal A Maxwell, “Popularity and Principle,” Ensign, Mar. 1995, 15)

Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

‘We are told in sacred writ, “that vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, and I will repay.” And in speaking of ourselves we need not be under any apprehensions pertaining to the acts of men, for the Lord has said, “It is my business to take care of my saints;” but it is our business to be Saints. And to be worthy of that character it is our duty to live by the principles of virtue, truth, integrity, holiness, purity, and honor, that we may at all times secure the favor of Almighty God; that His blessings may be with us and dwell in our bosoms; that the peace of God may abide in our habitations; that our fields, our flocks, and our herds may be blessed of the Lord; and that we, as a people, may be under His divine protection. Fear him and keep his commandments, and if we do this we need know no other fear either on this side of heaven or of hell, for God has pledged himself to take care of his people and to sustain and deliver them from the hands of their enemies. Therefore we may feel easy, and we can always afford to treat all men right. What! Would you treat your enemies well? Why, yes. If they were hungry I would feed them; if they were thirsty I would give them drink; if they were naked I would clothe them; but I would not be governed by their principles, nor influenced by the feelings which animate their bosoms. I would try and imitate and cherish the same truths that dwell in the bosom of God, who makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and the rain to fall on the just and on the unjust. Then, having done that, I would leave them in the hands of God, and let him direct his affairs according to the counsels of his own will.’ (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses)

 Romans 12:20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

‘Thou shalt heap … – Coals of fire are doubtless emblematical of “pain.” But the idea here is not that in so doing we shall call down divine vengeance on the man; but the apostle is speaking of the natural effect or result of showing him kindness. Burning coals heaped on a man’s head would be expressive of intense agony. So the apostle says that the “effect” of doing good to an enemy would be to produce pain. But the pain will result from shame, remorse of conscience, a conviction of the evil of his conduct, and an apprehension of divine displeasure that may lead to repentance. To do this, is not only perfectly right, but it is desirable. If a man can be brought to reflection and true repentance, it should be done.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 Romans 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

“Without contention, without argument, without offense, let us pursue a steady course, moving forward to build the kingdom of God. If there is trouble, let us face it calmly. Let us overcome evil with good. This is God’s work. It will continue to strengthen over the earth, touching for good the lives of countless thousands whose hearts will respond to the message of truth. No power under heaven can stop it. 11667This is my faith and this is my testimony.” (Gordon B Hinckley, Conference Report, April 1970, First Day-Morning Meeting 23.)

Romans 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

‘Hence, our highest priorities in life are to love God and to love our neighbors. That broadly includes neighbors in our own family, our community, our nation, and our world. Obedience to the second commandment facilitates obedience to the first commandment. “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” ‘(Russell M Nelson, General Conference, April 1994)

Romans 13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

‘ Fulfilling of the law.—The form of the Greek word implies not only that love helps a man to fulfil the law, but that in the fact of the presence of love in his heart the law is actually fulfilled.’ (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)

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Posted in Gospel Doctrine 2015, Jesus Christ, New Testament

Gospel Doctrine 2015 – Lesson 35 – “Be Ye Reconciled to God”

  1. Overcoming tribulation

2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;

“For anyone seeking the courage to repent and change, I remind you that the Church is not a monastery for the isolation of perfect people. It is more like a hospital provided for those who wish to get well. Do whatever you have to do to come into the fold and be blessed. For some of you that is simply to live with greater faith, to believe more. For some of you it does mean to repent-right here. Today…

“This reliance upon the forgiving, long-suffering, merciful nature of God was taught from before the very foundation of the world. It was always to give us hope and help, a reason to progress and improve, an incentive to lay down our burdens and take up our salvation. May I be bold enough to suggest that it is impossible for anyone who really knows God to doubt his willingness to receive us with open arms in a divine embrace if we will but ‘come unto him.’ There certainly can and will be plenty of external difficulties in life; nevertheless, the soul that comes unto Christ dwells within a personal fortress, a veritable palace of perfect peace. ‘Whoso hearkeneth unto me,’ Jehovah says, ‘shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil’ (Prov. 1:33).

“That is exactly what Paul said to the Corinthians. Trying to help them keep their chins up-and the Corinthians had a lot to be grim about-he wrote: ‘Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God’ (2 Cor. 1:3-4).” (Jeffrey R Holland, “Come unto Me,” Ensign, Apr. 1998, 18-19)

2 Corinthians 1: 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

‘Paul regarded the Lord Jesus as the source of consolation, and felt that the comfort which he imparted, or which was imparted through him, was more than sufficient to overbalance all the trials which he endured in this cause.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

 2 Corinthians 1:6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.

 7 And our hope of you is steadfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.

 8 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that wedespaired even of life:

 9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:

 10 Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;

“Paul sees fit to remind the saints at Corinth of the great afflictions and sufferings he has been called to bear in his missionary labors in Asia. Even though his trials were so great that at one point he says he ‘despaired even of life’ (1:8), he has trust in the ‘God which raiseth the dead’ (1:9)-probably a reference to the detailed exposition he had already sent them on resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15. Paul has experienced God’s deliverance from death as a mortal and furthermore has the assurance that God will ultimately deliver him when he finally does succumb to death in the future. Trust in God’s eventual deliverance from suffering provides comfort to all persons faced with affliction. Referring to the trials endured by many of the saints at Corinth, Paul assures them that just as the victory over death was wrought by Christ through suffering, so too it is through suffering that mortals can receive consolation and salvation: ‘For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.’ (1:5-7.)” (Robert L. Millet, ed., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 6: Acts to Revelation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 74.)

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 2 Corinthians 1:11 Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.

‘Though the apostle ascribes their deliverance solely to God, as the author and efficient cause of it; yet he takes notice of the prayers of the saints for them, as helping causes or means of their obtaining it.’ (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

 2 Corinthians 4:5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.

 6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

 8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

 9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

“Paul seemed to glory in persecution. It was he who said that persecution was the natural heritage of the faithful (see Acts 14:22; 2 Tim. 3:12). As we read of his trials we are reminded of the words of the Lord to Ananias at the time of Paul’s conversion, when he told Ananias that Paul was a chosen vessel, but that the Lord would ‘shew [Paul] how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake’ (Acts 9:16). Certainly Paul learned exactly what this meant before his life was through.” (Robert J. Matthews, Behold the Messiah [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1994], 329.)

 2 Corinthians 4:10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

‘The apostles were great sufferers, yet they met with wonderful support. Believers may be forsaken of their friends, as well as persecuted by enemies; but their God will never leave them nor forsake them. There may be fears within, as well as fightings without; yet we are not destroyed.’ (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)

 2 Corinthians 4:11 For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

‘Daniel was prepared to enter the den of lions; the three Hebrew children were not afraid of the fate that awaited them;  the Apostles were valiant for the truth and shrank not from death for its sake, and why could those men and others under similar circumstances stand by their convictions without flinching? Because, in the first place, they had the truth and they knew it for themselves; and in the second place, the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, sustained them as that power alone can in all the trying scenes through which the people of God are called to pass. And this is so today. What the Latter-day Saints have done by way of preaching the Gospel under all kinds of difficulties, building up cities and subduing waste lands, and establishing themselves in the earth, they have done by the revelations and commandments of God to them.’ (Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses)

 2 Corinthians 4:12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you.

 13 We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;

 14 Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.

 15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

‘Knowing that God the Father, who raised up the Lord Jesus from the dead, as the first-fruits of them that sleep, shall likewise, by the virtue of his resurrection, and by a power flowing from him, as now alive, and sitting at the right hand of God, quicken our mortal bodies; that both our souls and bodies may be presented with you, to be both eternally glorified: this maketh us that we do not fear death, but are unconcerned, although by wicked men we every day be delivered to it, and brought within the danger and sight of it; still the resurrection of Christ is made the foundation of our resurrection, and a firm ground for our faith of it.’ (Matthew Poole’s Commentary)

2 Corinthians 6:1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

 2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

 3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:

“When my sister was in the Young Women program, she, like many girls then and now, enjoyed talking with her friends and being silly whenever she had a chance. On one occasion a teacher finally got fed up and told her, ‘Leave the class and don’t come back until you can behave.’ My sister left and never did come back. That was 30 years ago.

“As Proverbs 18:19 reminds us, ‘A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city.’ It is so easy to offend someone-and so dangerous! The Apostle Paul, knowing how a thoughtless action or comment could affect a member’s attitude about the Church, urged us to give ‘no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed’ (2 Cor. 6:3).

“…This leads us to the other side of the issue: we have a responsibility to avoid taking offense and to freely forgive, even when we have not been asked to do so. One of the most frequently reported reasons for Church inactivity is ‘Someone offended me.’ We need to exercise patience with others. If we allow ourselves to be offended, any excuse will do.” (Denise Turner, “If Any Man Offend Not,” Ensign, Aug. 1998, 46-47)

 2 Corinthians 6:4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,

‘O ye Twelve! and all Saints! profit by this important Key—that in all your trials, troubles, temptations, afflictions, bonds, imprisonments and death, see to it, that you do not betray heaven; that you do not betray Jesus Christ; that you do not betray the brethren; that you do not betray the revelations18 of God, whether in the Bible, Book of Mormon, or Doctrine and Covenants, or any other that ever was or ever will be given and revealed unto man in this world or that which is to come. Yea, in all your kicking and flounderings, see to it that you do not this thing, lest innocent blood be found upon your skirts,  and you go down to hell. All other sins are not to be compared to sinning against the Holy Ghost, and proving a traitor to the brethren.’  (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith)

 2 Corinthians 6:5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;

‘In this verse, Paul proceeds to specifications of what he had been called to endure. In the previous verse, he had spoken of his afflictions in general terms.’ (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

2 Corinthians 6: 6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,

 7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,

 8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;

 9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;

 10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

“I heard a missionary up in Oregon giving the report of his mission. He himself was a convert to the Church, and he came down with his fist on the pulpit, and he said, ‘I wouldn’t take a check tonight for a million dollars for the experience of my mission.’ I sat back of him, and I said to myself, ‘Would you take a million dollars for your first mission in the little land of Holland?’ And I began counting the families that I’d been instrumental in bringing into the Church. What kind of a man would I be if I were to sell them out of the Church for a million dollars? I wouldn’t do that for all the money in the world!” (LeGrand Richards, “The Joy of Serving a Mission,” Ensign, Nov. 1978, 33)

2 Corinthians 11:21 I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also.

‘I speak as to those reproaches they cast on me, who am by them represented to you as though I were weak and contemptible; as indeed I am, as to my person, but not as to my doctrine, and the miracles I have wrought amongst you. And being some of them are so confident in boasting what they are, and what they have done and suffered; let me be a little bold as well as they, in telling you what I am, and what I have done and suffered.’ (Matthew Poole’s Commentary)

 2 Corinthians 11:22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I.

 23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.

 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.

“In Deuteronomy 25:1-3, Moses set down the principle that a guilty man could be lashed forty times. The Jewish rabbis had reduced that to thirty-nine, lest there should be a miscount and he be whipped more than forty times. (Moses waned against exceeding that number, and so the extra caution.) By Paul’s time this had developed into a brutally painful punishment meted out with great precision. To anyone familiar with the Jewish scourging, Paul’s claim that he endured such punishment five times is an impressive claim indeed, for often the victim died under the lashing. Farrar has given us a detailed description of the practice.

‘Both of [the victim’s] hands were tied to…a stake a cubit and a half high. The public officer then tore down his robe until his breast was laid bare. The executioner stood on a stone behind the criminal. The scourge consisted of two thongs, one of which was composed of four strands of calf-skin, and one of two strands of ass’s-skin, which passed through a hole in a handle…The prisoner bent to receive the blows, which were inflicted with one hand, but with all the force of the striker, thirteen on the breast, thirteen on the right [shoulder], and thirteen on the left shoulder…’ (Farrar, The Life and Works of ST. Paul, pp. 715-16)

“As we saw from Acts, Paul’s typical missionary approach was to enter the synagogue and begin preaching…When one contemplates the determination it would take to undergo such a flogging a second time, after suffering it once, one gets some idea of the extent of Paul’s commitment to Christ. Little wonder that he is peeved by the empty boasting and petty criticism of the false teachers at Corinth!” (Institute Manual, The Life and Teachings of Jesus & his Apostles, 2nd ed., p. 303)

2 Corinthians 11: 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;

 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;

‘When people receive the Gospel, their minds are opened; they see Zion in its glory; but they do not see the troubles on the Plains, or the troubles with false brethren. They are young, weak, and unprepared to receive those things which the Lord will suffer to come upon them. They are not prepared for those trials that will purify and prepare them for exaltation; their minds are only prepared for the riches and fulness of the glory of God that has been shown to them when the vision of their minds was opened by the Spirit of the living God; and but little do they know what they have to pass through.’ (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses)

27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

 2 Corinthians 11:28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.

 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?

 30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.

 31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.

‘The apostle gives an account of his labours and sufferings; not out of pride or vain-glory, but to the honour of God, who enabled him to do and suffer so much for the cause of Christ; and shows wherein he excelled the false apostles, who tried to lessen his character and usefulness. It astonishes us to reflect on this account of his dangers, hardships, and sufferings, and to observe his patience, perseverance, diligence, cheerfulness, and usefulness, in the midst of all these trials. See what little reason we have to love the pomp and plenty of this world, when this blessed apostle felt so much hardship in it. Our utmost diligence and services appear unworthy of notice when compared with his, and our difficulties and trials scarcely can be perceived. It may well lead us to inquire whether or not we really are followers of Christ. Here we may study patience, courage, and firm trust in God. Here we may learn to think less of ourselves; and we should ever strictly keep to truth, as in God’s presence; and should refer all to his glory, as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed for evermore.’ (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)

   2 Corinthians 11:32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:

 33 And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.

“Leaving Arabia and the scenes of his spiritual adjustment and preparation, Saul returned to Damascus. Here he plunged directly into the work of his ministry, and so vigorous and effective must his testimony have been for ‘many days’ that ‘the Jews took counsel to kill him.’ (Acts 9:23) Now Saul got a taste of persecution himself-sinister persecution that did not scruple at the taking of life.

“…Saul learned of the plot against him and of the fact that his enemies watched the gates of Damascus day and night to kill him. (Acts 9:24) The plotters enlisted the active help of the ethnarch of Damascus, who was the representative of King Aretas, the Roman-recognized ruler of the city. The ethnarch, as guardian of the metropolis, gave instructions to the guards at each of the gates to apprehend Saul if he should attempt to escape. (2 Cor. 11:32) The situation became so tense that Saul finally decided upon flight. It is a wise man who knows when to hold his ground and when to flee. A dead man could not very well carry the Gospel to the Gentiles, so flight it was. Saul was aided by the disciples (same mss. read ‘his disciples’) in Damascus to make a clever escape. Certain houses on the wall of the city had windows overhanging the fosse, and one or more of those houses may have belonged to the loyal friends of Saul. It was decided to put the fleeing man through a window in a basket and lower him down the wall under cover of darkness. (Acts 9:25; 2 Cor. 11:33) Thus the beleaguered Saul made good his escape.” (Sidney B. Sperry, Paul’s Life and Letters [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1955], 26.)

2 Corinthians 12:1 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.

‘It is neither comely, nor of any advantage to myself, to glory; nor would I do it but in this case of necessity, where glorying is necessary for the glory of God, and for your good, to vindicate myself to you from the imputations that some others lay upon me. ‘ (Jamieson- Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary)

 2 Corinthians 12:2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.

“Paul also understood and taught the doctrine of various heavens, or degrees of glory. In fact, in his second letter to the saints at Corinth, he states that he knew a man who was ‘caught up to the third heaven’ (2 Corinthians 12:2). Naturally, if there is a ‘third’ heaven, there must also be a first and a second. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul identifies three degrees of glory and gives names to two of these heavens. In speaking of the order of resurrected bodies, he states: ‘There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead’ (1 Corinthians 15:40-42; emphasis added). Thus Paul indicates that the highest heaven, whose glory is like the sun, is called the celestial. The second heaven, whose glory is like the moon, is the terrestrial. The lowest order of heaven, whose glory is like the stars, is not named by Paul.

“The clearest and most comprehensive statement in all scripture on the three heavens, or degrees of glory, comes from modern scripture, the Doctrine and Covenants. This book contains the testimony of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, who, on 16 February 1832, were shown these heavens in vision and who recorded their experience.” (Daniel H. Ludlow, Selected Writings of Daniel H. Ludlow: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2000], 412.)

  2 Corinthians 12:3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)

The man is Paul himself.

 2 Corinthians 12:4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heardunspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

“…it is apparent that something is being withheld, and it is also apparent that it is being held back not arbitrarily but for a good reason, namely, that people are not ready to receive it. It is also apparent that people are to be given knowledge as they are able to receive it, so that the mysteries of the kingdom are imparted by degrees. There are, as it were, automatic safeguards built into the teaching to protect sacred things from common misunderstanding and to protect the unworthy from damaging themselves with them.” (Hugh Nibley, Since Cumorah, 2nd ed. [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1988], 94.)

 2 Corinthians 12:5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.

‘The apostle in great modesty seems to speak of some other person, and not himself, as caught up into the third heaven, when he yet means himself; and does as it were distinguish himself from himself; himself in paradise from himself on earth; his sense is, that though he might lawfully glory of such a person so highly exalted and favoured, yet since this was his own case, he chose to forbear, and say no more of it. ‘(Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

 2 Corinthians 12:6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.

 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

“Paul indicated that ‘there was given to me a thorn in the flesh.’ (2 Corinthians 12:7-9. Italics added.) Use of the word givensuggests that Paul knew wherefrom this affliction came. Further, as it must be with anyone who seeks sainthood, Paul had to be ‘willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him.’ (Mosiah 3:19.)

“There may be those who choose to debate the significance of whether or not an omnipotent God gives us a particular trial or simply declines to remove it. The outcome is obviously the same either way; God is willing for us to undergo that challenge. Yet He promises us that His grace is sufficient for us. (2 Corinthians 12:9; Ether 12:26-27.) He even indicates that some of the weaknesses and infirmities given to us can actually become a strength to us. It is in our weakness and extremity that God’s power is fully felt. Only when, of ourselves, we are helpless is His help truly appreciated.” (Neal A Maxwell, All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience[Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979], 31.)

2 Corinthians 12: 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

This reminds us of the Saviour’s three-fold prayer in Gethsemane.

 2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

“We should have great hope in knowing, however unworthy we may feel or weak we may be, that if we will do all we can, He will come to our aid and provide for us whatever we may lack. (See 2 Cor. 12:9.) That statement, to some degree, defines grace.

“Grace is a ‘divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.’ It is ‘an enabling power.’ (Bible Dictionary, p. 697.) The doctrine of the grace of the Father and the Son and how it affects us is so significant that it is mentioned more than two hundred times in the standard works.

“If we can obtain the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, that divine enabling power to assist us, we will triumph in this life and be exalted in the life to come.” (Gene R Cook, “Receiving Divine Assistance through the Grace of the Lord,” Ensign, May 1993, 80)

2 Corinthians 12: 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

‘I rejoice in afflictions, for they are necessary to humble and prove us, that we may comprehend ourselves, become acquainted with our weakness and infirmities; and I rejoice when I triumph over them, because God answers my prayers, therefore I feel to rejoice all the day long.’ (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses)

  1. Forgiving others

 2 Corinthians 2:5 But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all.

‘Not to me: Not that Paul did not grieve over the offender; but he desires to emphasize the fact that the injury caused by the sin was not to him personally, but to the Church.’ (Vincent’s Word Studies)

  2 Corinthians 2:6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.

 7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.

“Paul wrote to the Saints at Corinth about the importance of forgiving readily, ‘Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.’ (2 Cor. 2:11.) Only as we forgive do we earn the right to be forgiven. This is an eternal principle, so taught by the Savior when he said: ‘For if ye forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you.’ (Matt. 6:14.)

“Paul certainly understood this great truth, for he taught: ‘And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.’ (Eph. 4:32.)

“Not only need we forgive to be forgiven, but we must also repent to earn this great blessing. A prophet of our day has recorded that the repentant ‘shall be forgiven, according to the covenants and commandments of the church.’ (D&C 68:24.) Then this sweet assurance followed: ‘. . . and I, the Lord, remember them no more.’ (D&C 58:42.)” (Robert L Simpson, Conference Report, October 1966, Afternoon Meeting 128.)

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2 Corinthians 2: 8 Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.

‘The Lord expects more of the disciple than ordinary response to need, to opportunity, to commandment. He expects more humility, more hearkening, more repenting, more mercy and forgiving and faith, more service and sacrifice.’ (Marion D Hanks, General Conference, October 1976)

 2 Corinthians 2:9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.

 10 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;

 11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

‘The apostle desires them to receive the person who had done wrong, again into their communion; for he was aware of his fault, and much afflicted under his punishment. Even sorrow for sin should not unfit for other duties, and drive to despair. Not only was there danger last Satan should get advantage, by tempting the penitent to hard thoughts of God and religion, and so drive him to despair; but against the churches and the ministers of Christ, by bringing an evil report upon Christians as unforgiving; thus making divisions, and hindering the success of the ministry. In this, as in other things, wisdom is to be used, that the ministry may not be blamed for indulging sin on the one hand, or for too great severity towards sinners on the other hand. Satan has many plans to deceive, and knows how to make a bad use of our mistakes.’ (Matthew Henry’s Concise Bible Commentary)

  1. Feeling godly sorrow for our sins

2 Corinthians 7:8 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.

“Paul wrote 2 Corinthians from Macedonia, giving further detailed instructions…Another purpose for writing was to heal his relationship with them before he arrived. At the beginning, he worried that the Corinthians had misread his motives, mentioning there and later, ‘I made you sorry with a letter’ (2 Cor. 7:8). This could be a lost letter, although 1 Corinthians is harsh enough in places to qualify. That detail does not matter as much as seeing the unbending determination of Paul to speak the truth but to keep a good relationship with the Corinthians. He did not attempt to smooth over difficulties with superficial politeness. This second letter is a genuine second communication of gratitude that the first letter found its mark and that lives were changed. This combination of firmness and profound love for the Corinthians throws some commentators off guard. Since they cannot understand how the same letter can combine reproof and healing outreach, the Corinthian correspondence is often sliced into a number of letters. But this is purely artificial, for Jesus and Paul stood for love based on reality. Thus both criticism and concern can be given in the same communication. This is the case with 2 Corinthians, with an added factor. There were now two main groups in the branch, one of which had achieved the unity that Paul commanded, but the other stood defiant against him. So Paul’s mood swings in the letter to match the two different groups addressed.” (Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 131 – 132.)

 2 Corinthians 7:9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.

‘Whereas “I did repent” or regret having made you sorry by my letter, I rejoice NOW, not that ye were caused sorrow, but that your sorrow resulted in your repentance.’ (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary)

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 2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

“Godly sorrow is a gift of the Spirit. It is a deep realization that our actions have offended our Father and our God. It is the sharp and keen awareness that our behavior caused the Savior, He who knew no sin, even the greatest of all, to endure agony and suffering. Our sins caused Him to bleed at every pore. This very real mental and spiritual anguish is what the scriptures refer to as having ‘a broken heart and a contrite spirit.’ (See 3 Ne. 9:20; Moro. 6:2; D&C 20:37, 59:8; Ps. 34:18; Ps. 51:17; Isa. 57:15.) Such a spirit is the absolute prerequisite for true repentance.” (Ezra Taft Benson, “A Mighty Change of Heart,” Ensign, Oct. 1989, 4)

  1. Becoming reconciled to God

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

‘He is a new creature; ( the Greek is, a new creation); a phrase which argueth the greatest change imaginable, and such a one as can be wrought in the soul by no other power than the power of God. ‘ (Matthew Poole’s Commentary)

 2 Corinthians 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

“…missionary work is the work of bringing people to peace with Christ and God. Paul calls it reconciliation. In his second letter to the Corinthians he said, ‘God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, . . . hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.’ (2 Corinthians 5:18.) He then declared that we are ambassadors for Christ and that we should bring all people to be reconciled to God. Through missionary work, we bring people to the waters of baptism, and through baptism they receive remission of their sins and peace in Christ.” (Robert E Wells, The Mount and the Master [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 87.)

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 2 Corinthians 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

 21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew nosin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

“The night of atonement was a night of irony. He who was sinless became, as it were, the great Sinner. In Paul’s words, God the Father had ‘made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin.’ (2 Cor. 5:21.) To the Galatian Saints, Paul also taught that ‘Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.’ (Gal. 3:13.) He who deserved least of all to suffer now suffered most-more than mortal mind can fathom. He who had brought life-the more abundant life (John 10:10)-was subjected to the powers of death and darkness. As the Prophet Joseph Smith taught the brethren of the School of the Prophets, Jesus Christ is called the Son of God because he ‘descended in suffering below that which man can suffer; or, in other words, suffered greater sufferings, and was exposed to more powerful contradictions than any man can be.'” (Kent P. Jackson and Robert L. Millet, eds.,Studies in Scripture, Vol. 5: The Gospels [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1986], 436.)