Article of Faith #3 states:
3) We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
This is one of my favorite of the Articles of Faith. It can tell you so much about the thoughts and intentions of God. I am going to break this down step by step to make sure it is well understood.
The first segment says ‘We believe that through the Atonement of Christ’ The Atonement of Christ is the culmination of his works on Earth. The reason for his suffering in both Gethsemane and on the cross were to give himself as a perfect sacrifice for all the children of God, so that if we repent and follow his example, we can be saved. That great work was called the Atonement, and, like it or not, we all benefit from it.
Now the next part is interesting. ‘All mankind may be saved’. Not that all mankind will be saved, but all of them may be saved, predicated upon obedience to the Gospel. This is where free will comes in. If Christ suffered for our sins and we all automatically went to heaven, it wouldn’t matter what we did here on Earth.
But God gave us something important, something that he will never take away.
He gave us the freedom to choose, freewill, or as my church likes to call it: Agency (coming originally from the latin meaning ‘doing’ or ‘to do’). God has given us so much in our lives, including cars, toaster ovens, even oxygen. But imagine if you were suddenly transported to a barren wasteland. What do you have then? No car, no food, no toaster.
You would still have your freewill. That is a gift God will never take away. Which leads us into the last part. ‘By obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel’. I have heard many times amongst my friends that I am in a spiritual prison of sorts. They believe that my faith confines me and my actions, that I cannot think or choose for myself.
Let me re-iterate. God will NEVER take away our freedom to choose. So what greater gift to a God who created us is there than our choice to do as he asks? The choice to give up our freewill and put our will in line with His?
In the lives of obedient Christians, there is only one real decision to make. I must decide every morning if I love God. Because, if I love him, I will follow his commandments. I will treat my brothers and sisters in the world with love and respect, and I would try every day to put God and his desires before my own.
In Matthew 25: 40, it reads:
40) And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
This describes how important it is to treat others well. Again, we have our freewill to either choose good or evil. If I went up to one of my coworkers and decided to yell at him, I would not be treating him with love and respect, and in turn, I would not be treating God with love and respect. It is important that in all our actions, we focus on what is important: loving our father in heaven.
It is also important to know that our freewill affects others. Me deciding to eat strawberry shortcake with my fingers and then wipe it on the couch cushions effects my mother, and not showing up on Sunday when asked to teach a lesson at church effects others. But it is important to know that no matter what, if we all adhere to the teachings of God, then there would be no conflict.
In Matthew 5:48, it says:
48) Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Now, in this life, it is impossible to be perfect. That is why the Savior was so important, because he was the only one to achieve it. This life is a practice in the use of freewill, and we will be blessed in heaven as we use our freewill to do what God wants rather than what the world wants.
If you have any questions, leave a comment below. I will be glad to edit this post or respond with another one if I missed something.
The next post will be about Article of Faith #4, talking about the principles and ordinances of the Gospel as this post made mention of. The link will be here when it is completed.