Religion / Theology

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Navigator
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Christ makes Eternal Blessings Possible for Us

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Christ’s Critical Role in Our Journey

In this posting, I am going to use links/quotes from the Book of Mormon. This book complements the Bible and gives further insight into Christ’s role as our Savior in making possible many things for us in the eternities.

The Atonement Is Necessary for Our Salvation

The great sacrifice Jesus Christ made to pay for our sins and overcome death is called the Atonement. It is the most important event that has ever occurred in the history of mankind: “For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; … yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement” (Alma 34:9 https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/stu ... id=9-16#p9).

The Fall of Adam brought two kinds of death into the world: physical death and spiritual death. Physical death is separation of the body and spirit. Spiritual death is separation from God. If these two kinds of death had not been overcome by Jesus Christ’s Atonement, two consequences would have resulted: our bodies and our spirits would have been separated forever, and we could not have lived again with our Heavenly Father (see 2 Nephi 9:7–9 https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/stu ... &id=7-9#p7).

But our wise Heavenly Father prepared a wonderful, merciful plan to save us from physical and spiritual death. He planned for a Savior to come to earth to ransom (redeem) us from our sins and from death. Because of our sins and the weakness of our mortal bodies, we could not ransom ourselves. The one who would be our Savior would need to be sinless and to have power over death.

Jesus Christ Was the Only One Who Could Atone for Our Sins

There are several reasons why Jesus Christ was the only person who could be our Savior. One reason is that Heavenly Father chose Him to be the Savior. He was the Only Begotten Son of God and thus had power over death. Jesus explained: “I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:17–18).

Jesus also qualified to be our Savior because He is the only person who has ever lived on the earth who did not sin. This made Him a worthy sacrifice to pay for the sins of others.

Christ Suffered and Died to Atone for Our Sins

The Savior atoned for our sins by suffering in Gethsemane and by giving His life on the cross. It is impossible for us to fully understand how He suffered for all of our sins. In the Garden of Gethsemane, the weight of our sins caused Him to feel such agony that He bled from every pore. Later, as He hung upon the cross, Jesus suffered painful death by one of the most cruel methods known to man.

How Jesus loves us, to suffer such spiritual and physical agony for our sake! How great the love of Heavenly Father that He would send His Only Begotten Son to suffer and die for the rest of His children. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

The Atonement and Resurrection Bring Resurrection to All

On the third day after His Crucifixion, Christ took up His body again and became the first person to be resurrected. When His friends went to seek Him, the angels who guarded His tomb told them, “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said” (Matthew 28:6). His spirit had reentered His body, never to be separated again.

Christ thus overcame physical death. Because of His Atonement, everyone born on this earth will be resurrected (see 1 Corinthians 15:21–22). Just as Jesus was resurrected, our spirits will be reunited with our bodies, “that they can die no more … , never to be divided” (Alma 11:45 https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/stu ... &id=45#p45). This condition is called immortality. All people who have ever lived will be resurrected, “both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous” (Alma 11:44 https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/stu ... &id=44#p44).

The Atonement Makes It Possible for Those Who Have Faith in Christ to Be Saved from Their Sins

The Savior’s Atonement makes it possible for us to overcome spiritual death. Although all people will be resurrected, only those who accept the Atonement will be saved from spiritual death.

We accept Christ’s Atonement by placing our faith in Him. Through this faith, we repent of our sins, are baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and obey His commandments. We become faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. We are forgiven and cleansed from sin and prepared to return and live forever with our Heavenly Father.

The Savior tells us, “For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer … even as I”. Christ did His part to atone for our sins. To make His Atonement fully effective in our lives, we must strive to obey Him and repent of our sins.

The following is from a great talk I have heard. It is quite powerful:

“Let me tell you a story—a parable.
“There once was a man who wanted something very much. It seemed more important than anything else in his life. In order for him to have his desire, he incurred a great debt.
“He had been warned about going into that much debt, and particularly about his creditor. But it seemed so important for him to do what he wanted to do and to have what he wanted right now. He was sure he could pay for it later.
“So he signed a contract. He would pay it off some time along the way. He didn’t worry too much about it, for the due date seemed such a long time away. He had what he wanted now, and that was what seemed important.
“The creditor was always somewhere in the back of his mind, and he made token payments now and again, thinking somehow that the day of reckoning really would never come.
“But as it always does, the day came, and the contract fell due. The debt had not been fully paid. His creditor appeared and demanded payment in full.

“Only then did he realize that his creditor not only had the power to repossess all that he owned, but the power to cast him into prison as well.
“‘I cannot pay you, for I have not the power to do so,’ he confessed.
“‘Then,’ said the creditor, ‘we will exercise the contract, take your possessions, and you shall go to prison. You agreed to that. It was your choice. You signed the contract, and now it must be enforced.’
“‘Can you not extend the time or forgive the debt?’ the debtor begged. ‘Arrange some way for me to keep what I have and not go to prison. Surely you believe in mercy? Will you not show mercy?’
“The creditor replied, ‘Mercy is always so one-sided. It would serve only you. If I show mercy to you, it will leave me unpaid. It is justice I demand. Do you believe in justice?’
“‘I believed in justice when I signed the contract,’ the debtor said. ‘It was on my side then, for I thought it would protect me. I did not need mercy then, nor think I should need it ever. Justice, I thought, would serve both of us equally as well.’
“‘It is justice that demands that you pay the contract or suffer the penalty,’ the creditor replied. ‘That is the law. You have agreed to it and that is the way it must be. Mercy cannot rob justice.’

“There they were: One meting out justice, the other pleading for mercy. Neither could prevail except at the expense of the other.
“‘If you do not forgive the debt there will be no mercy,’ the debtor pleaded.
“‘If I do, there will be no justice,’ was the reply.
“Both laws, it seemed, could not be served. They are two eternal ideals that appear to contradict one another. Is there no way for justice to be fully served, and mercy also?

“There is a way! The law of justice can be fully satisfied and mercy can be fully extended—but it takes someone else. And so it happened this time.
“The debtor had a friend. He came to help. He knew the debtor well. He knew him to be shortsighted. He thought him foolish to have gotten himself into such a predicament. Nevertheless, he wanted to help because he loved him. He stepped between them, faced the creditor, and made this offer.
“‘I will pay the debt if you will free the debtor from his contract so that he may keep his possessions and not go to prison.’
“As the creditor was pondering the offer, the mediator added, ‘You demanded justice. Though he cannot pay you, I will do so. You will have been justly dealt with and can ask no more. It would not be just.’
“And so the creditor agreed.
“The mediator turned then to the debtor. ‘If I pay your debt, will you accept me as your creditor?’
“‘Oh yes, yes,’ cried the debtor. ‘You save me from prison and show mercy to me.’
“‘Then,’ said the benefactor, ‘you will pay the debt to me and I will set the terms. It will not be easy, but it will be possible. I will provide a way. You need not go to prison.’
“And so it was that the creditor was paid in full. He had been justly dealt with. No contract had been broken.
“The debtor, in turn, had been extended mercy. Both laws stood fulfilled. Because there was a mediator, justice had claimed its full share, and mercy was fully satisfied”

Our sins are our spiritual debts. Without Jesus Christ, who is our Savior and Mediator, we would all pay for our sins by suffering spiritual death. But because of Him, if we will keep His terms, which are to repent and keep His commandments, we may return to live with our Heavenly Father.
It is wonderful that Christ has provided us a way to be healed from our sins. He said:
“Behold, I have come unto the world … to save the world from sin.
“Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God. Behold, for such I have laid down my life, and have taken it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me ye ends of the earth, and be saved” (3 Nephi 9:21–22 https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/stu ... =21-22#p21).

Christ has taken the steps to be able to the price of our sins. This allows us to be forgiven and to be cleansed of the effects of our sins, making it possible for us to return to our Heavenly Father, and to receive from him all that he has and wants to give us in the eternities of our post-mortal existence.

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Covenants - Eternal Agreements with God

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Making Covenants with the Lord

The Nature of Covenants

From the beginning, the Lord has made covenants with His children on earth. When His people make covenants (or promises) with Him, they know what He expects of them and what blessings they may expect from Him. They can better carry out His work on earth. The people who covenant with the Lord and with whom the Lord makes covenants are known as the Lord’s covenant people.

Within the gospel, a covenant means a sacred agreement or mutual promise between God and a person or a group of people. In making a covenant, God promises a blessing for obedience to particular commandments. Many of these blessings pertain to our post mortal life. God sets the terms of His covenants, and He reveals these terms to His prophets. If we choose to obey the terms of the covenant, we receive promised blessings. If we choose not to obey, He withholds the blessings, and in some instances a penalty also is given.

For example, when we join with Christ and his Church, we make several covenants with God. We covenant with the Savior at baptism to take upon ourselves His name. He promises that “as many as repent and are baptized in my name, which is Jesus Christ, and endure to the end, the same shall be saved” . We covenant with the Lord as we partake of the sacrament. We promise to take His name upon ourselves, to remember Him, and to obey His commandments. We are promised that the Holy Spirit will be with us. Additional covenants are available to families in the Lord’s temples.

God has also made special covenants with particular persons or groups. He made special covenants with Adam, Enoch, Noah, the children of Israel, and Lehi (see Genesis 9:9–17; Exodus 19:5–6; 2 Nephi 1). He made a special covenant with Abraham and his descendants that blesses members of the Church and all nations of the earth today.

God’s Covenant with Abraham and His Descendants

Abraham, an Old Testament prophet, was a very righteous man. He refused to worship his father’s idols. He kept all of the Lord’s commandments. Because of Abraham’s righteousness, the Lord made a covenant with him and his descendants.

The Lord promised Abraham that he would have numberless descendants. He promised that all of them would be entitled to receive the gospel, the blessings of the priesthood, and all of the ordinances of exaltation. These descendants, through the power of the priesthood, would carry the gospel to all nations. Through them, all the families of the earth would be blessed. God further promised that if they were righteous He would establish His covenant with all generations of Abraham’s children (see Genesis 17:4–8).

Members of the Lord’s Church Are a Covenant People

The blood descendants of Abraham are not the only people whom God calls His covenant people. In speaking to Abraham, God said, “As many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed [lineage], and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father” (Abraham 2:10). Thus, two groups of people are included in the covenant made with Abraham: (1) Abraham’s righteous blood descendants and (2) those adopted into his lineage by accepting and living the gospel of Jesus Christ (see 2 Nephi 30:2).

When we are baptized into the Lord’s Church, we enter into the covenant the Lord made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (see Galatians 3:26–29). If we are obedient, we inherit the blessings of that covenant. We have the right to receive help and guidance from the Holy Ghost. Worthy males have the right to hold the priesthood. Families can receive the blessings of the priesthood. We can gain eternal life and all that our Heavenly Father has. There are no greater blessings than these.

As the Lord’s covenant people, we should keep His commandments. The Lord said, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise”. If we reject our covenant after accepting the gospel, the covenant becomes void and we will stand condemned before God. He has said: “Refrain from sin, lest sore judgments fall upon your heads. For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation” .

The New and Everlasting Covenant

The fulness of the gospel is called the new and everlasting covenant. It includes the covenants made at baptism, during the sacrament, in the temple, and at any other time. The Lord calls it everlasting because it is ordained by an everlasting God and because the covenant will never be changed. He gave this same covenant to Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and other prophets. In this sense it is not new. But the Lord calls it new because each time the gospel is restored after being taken from the earth, it is new to the people who receive it (see Jeremiah 31:31–34; Ezekiel 37:26).

When we accept the new and everlasting covenant, we agree to repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, enter into temple covenants, and follow and obey Christ to the end of our lives. As we keep our covenants, our Heavenly Father promises us that we will receive exaltation.

The greatness of that promise is hard for mortals to understand. The commandments He gives are for our benefit, and as we are faithful, we may forever share the blessings and beauties of heaven and earth. We may live in His presence and partake of His love, compassion, power, greatness, knowledge, wisdom, glory, and dominions.

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Marriage in the Eternities

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The most important covenants we make with the Lord in this life pertain to our families. If we keep these covenants, we can be united as couples and as families forever. These covenants are made before the Lord in his Temples.

Eternal Marriage

Marriage Is Ordained of God


Marriage between a man and a woman is a vital part of God’s plan. Since the beginning, marriage has been a law of the gospel. Marriages are intended to last forever, not just for our mortal lives.

Adam and Eve were married by God before there was any death in the world. They had an eternal marriage. They taught the law of eternal marriage to their children and their children’s children. As the years passed, wickedness entered the hearts of the people and the authority to perform this sacred ordinance was taken from the earth. Through the Restoration of the gospel, eternal marriage has been restored to earth.

Eternal Marriage Is Essential for Exaltation

Many people in the world consider marriage to be only a social custom, a legal agreement between a man and a woman to live together. Our exaltation depends on marriage, along with other principles and ordinances, such as faith, repentance, baptism, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. We believe that marriage is the most sacred relationship that can exist between a man and a woman. This sacred relationship affects our happiness now and in the eternities.

Heavenly Father has given us the law of eternal marriage so we can become like Him.

Eternal Marriage Must Be Performed by Proper Authority in the Temple

An eternal marriage must be performed by one who holds the proper authority from God to do so. Not only must an eternal marriage be performed by the proper priesthood authority, but it must also be done in one of the holy temples of our Lord. The temple is the only place this holy ordinance can be performed.

In the temple, couples kneel at one of the sacred altars and make their marriage covenants before God. They are pronounced husband and wife for time and all eternity. This is done by one who holds the holy priesthood of God and has been given the authority to perform this sacred ordinance. He acts under the direction of the Lord and promises the couple the blessings of exaltation. He instructs them in the things they must do to receive these blessings. He reminds them that all blessings depend on obedience to the laws of God.

If we are married by any authority other than by the priesthood in a temple, the marriage is for this life only. After death, the marriage partners have no claim on each other or on their children. An eternal marriage gives us the opportunity to continue as families after this life.

Benefits of an Eternal Marriage


We should be living with an eternal perspective, not just for the moment. However, we can receive blessings in this life as a result of being married for eternity. Some of those blessings are as follows:

• We know that our marriage can last forever. Death can part us from one another only temporarily. Nothing can part us forever except our own disobedience. This knowledge helps us work harder to have a happy, successful marriage.

• We know that our family relationships can continue throughout eternity. This knowledge helps us be careful in teaching and training our children. It also helps us show them greater patience and love. As a result, we should have a happier home.

• Because we have been married in God’s ordained way, we are entitled to an outpouring of the Spirit on our marriage as we remain worthy.

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Families Can Be Eternal

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The Family Can Be Eternal

The Importance of Families


“Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. … The family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World, 1995).

After Heavenly Father brought Adam and Eve together in marriage, He commanded them to have children (see Genesis 1:28). He has revealed that one of the purposes of marriage is to provide mortal bodies for His spirit children. Parents are partners with our Heavenly Father. He wants each of His spirit children to receive a physical body and to experience earth life. When a man and a woman bring children into this world, they help our Heavenly Father carry out His plan.

Every new child should be welcomed into the family with gladness. Each is a child of God. We should take time to enjoy our children, to play with them, and to teach them.

At home, with our families, we can learn self-control, sacrifice, loyalty, and the value of work. We can learn to love, to share, and to serve one another.

Fathers and mothers are responsible to teach their children about Heavenly Father. They should show by example that they love Him because they keep His commandments. Parents should also teach their children to pray and to obey the commandments (see Proverbs 22:6).

The Eternal Family

Families can be together forever. To enjoy this blessing we must be married in the temple. When people are married outside the temple, the marriage ends when one of the partners dies. When we are married in the temple by the authority of God’s Holy Priesthood, we are married for time and eternity. If we keep our covenants with the Lord, our families will be united eternally as husband, wife, and children. Death cannot separate us.

Loving Family Relationships

Husbands and wives should be thoughtful and kind to each other. They should never do or say anything to hurt each other’s feelings. They should also try to do everything possible to make each other happy.

As parents come to know God and strive to be like Him, they will teach children to love one another. In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin explained:
“Ye will not suffer your children … [to] fight and quarrel one with another. …“But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another” (Mosiah 4:14–15 https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/stu ... =14-15#p14).

As family members we can help each other feel confident by giving encouragement and sincere praise. Each child should feel important. Parents need to show they are interested in what their children do and express love and concern for their children. Children should likewise show their love for their parents. They should be obedient and try to live the kind of life that will bring honor to their parents and to their family name.

How to Have a Successful Family

The most important of the Lord’s work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own homes. Satan knows how important families are to our Heavenly Father’s plan. He seeks to destroy them by keeping us from drawing near to the Lord. He will tempt us to do things that will draw our families apart.

“Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World, 1995).

All of us want to have happy, successful families. The following things will help us achieve this:
1. Have family prayer every night and morning (see 3 Nephi 18:21 https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/stu ... &id=21#p21). Pray together as husband and wife.
2. Teach children the gospel every week in family home evening.
3. Study the scriptures regularly as a family.
4. Do things together as a family, such as work projects, outings, and decision making.
5. Learn to be kind, patient, long-suffering, and charitable (see Moroni 7:45–48 https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/stu ... =45-48#p45).

The family is the most important unit in the world. Christ's Church exists to help families gain eternal blessings and exaltation. The organizations and programs within his Church are designed to strengthen us individually and help us live as families forever.

Navigator
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Proclamation on the Family

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THE FAMILY
A PROCLAMATION TO THE WORLD


THE FIRST PRESIDENCY AND COUNCIL OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS

We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.

The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.

Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.

We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

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