The Natural Man

We all know Mosiah 3:19. In general it talks about the natural man being contrary, or an enemy to God. But then it also talks about children, and how they, in their natural submissive state are one with God and willing to do all that he asks. This reiterates one of Christ’s teachings about becoming like a child.

In the words of Mosiah, the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been since the fall of Adam. But what is the natural man? And if children are born good and submissive, how can it be natural?

The answer to that is temptation. Children do not have temptation like adults do; temptations to be unfaithful, to commit adultery, to steal or kill. Their hearts are pure, and the only reason they do not remain that way is when they are trained by parents or by the world to accept truths that are not inherent in the Gospel.

These truths are not inherently false, but they are definitely misleading. Lets use drugs for an example. ‘Just once won’t hurt’ is a very common turn of phrase we can hear from friends and co-workers in our lives. Sure, on cigarette won’t give you cancer. One drink won’t get you in a car crash. So that phrase- ‘just once won’t hurt’ isn’t false, but it is misleading. It may not hurt, but it sets you off on a path to do more and worse things.

This is not meant to be a lecture on drug abuse or anything like that. What I mean is that being a ‘natural man’ isn’t natural at all. Whereas it may seem natural to go and do wrong, there is always an option, and you were born with a conscience. Follow what you believe to be right. Trust in God to tell you what is right. As you seek consistently for his guidance, your defenses against temptation will increase.

The stronger you get, the less power Satan will have over you. So make a choice. Decide today that you will be like a child; a child of God. Submit to the will of God in your life and let him lead you in safe roads. You are a beloved child of our Father in Heaven and he wants to help you. So accept the help. Work hard. It will not be easy, but you will feel so much better about your life when God is in it. Trust me, I have compared both sides.

I hope you all have a good day and make sure that you pray today to ask for help in your life. As you commune with God, his light will come into your life.

Live Strong.

Article of Faith #4: Principles and Ordinances of the Gospel

Article of Faith #4 reads:

4) We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

These are the things that members of the Church work on all their lives. Faith is the first step to being a member of the Church. The definition we use for faith is a belief in things which are not seen which are true. Belief in God is a call to action. If you believe That God is there, you will follow his commandments as laid out in the scriptures. However , if you don’t believe in God, there will be no point in obeying those commandments.

There is a section in James 2 verses 17 & 18:

17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

This is, once again, a call to action.  The verses say that we need to show our faith by our works, or our faith is ‘dead’ as the verse puts it. So what this means to me, is that regardless of your personal beliefs, is that we need to focus on our works, so that we can grow and show our faith.

The first act of faith that is mentioned in this Article of Faith is repentance. Repentance is a very simple path that God gives us to be free from our sins. It requires sorrow for the sin, confession of it, making it right, then asking forgiveness from both man and God.

We all can admit that this is a very difficult course of action to take without practice and habit. I know that when I do something wrong, it is hard to admit that I am wrong, let alone ask forgiveness. That may just be me, but it truly enhances your relationships with your fellow man when you ask forgiveness for things you have done wrong. It engenders trust, love, and when you are forgiven, it removes burdens.

This leads to the next step. Baptism is that step, as it is the next act of faith higher that realizing your mistakes and repenting. Baptism is both a covenant and an act that clears you of all sins.

When you are baptized, it is done in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Then you are immersed completely in the water, then brought up, just like the Savior was when he was baptized by John. At that time we make covenants to remember Christ and take his name upon us, and in return we are given his spirit.

His spirit is the greatest gift that we can be given. the spirit, or the gift of the Holy Ghost, is meant to help and guide us in the paths of righteousness. this helps us rebuild our easily destroyed consciences, that are also meant to give us guidance as to right and wrong.

I like to think of our conscience as a circle, with a box floating in the middle. When we do something against our conscience, the square is jostled and pokes the side of this circle. That is the pain of guilt. But as we know, the more we do wrong, the easier it is, and thus the square becomes rounded off, the corners chipping away.

That is why the Holy Ghost is so important. The Holy Ghost, as long as we keep to righteous actions, can stay with us and guide us to choose better. Also, repentance allows us to once again feel the sorrow and fix what we have done, allowing us to re-form the square, and allowing us to feel the joy of righteousness again.

Let’s sum it up. Faith is a belief in things which are not seen, which are true. Namely, faith in God, Christ, and the Holy Ghost. Faith leads us to obey the commandments of God, leading us to repent and trying to do better at keeping them. as we repent, we grow a desire to follow God more closely, leading us to be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost. Baptism removes all prior sins and allows us to start anew with the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

That is about it for the 4th Article of Faith. Next I will talk about Article of Faith #5, talking about the authority of the priesthood and the preaching of the gospel. The link will be here when it is completed.

Article of Faith #3: Freewill and Salvation

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.

 

Article of Faith #2: Original Sin

The second Article of Faith goes like this:

2) We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, but not for Adam’s transgression.

Now, for any who do not know, Adam’s transgression was the sin that got him and Eve cast out of the Garden of Eden. There was a commandment given for him not to partake of the tree of knowledge, as is shown in this verse, Genesis 2: 16-17

16) And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:

17) But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

That was the only law that God gave them to follow, and as such, Adam and Eve did pretty well keeping it until they were tempted by Satan.

The next chapter, the serpent (Lucifer, Satan) beguiled Eve into taking the fruit, and giving it also to Adam. They partook and immediately they understood that they were naked and that they should cover themselves. At that time is when mortality set in.

Adam and Eve, from the time of their creation to the time when they partook of the fruit were in a state where they knew no happiness or sadness. They could not be happy because they had no sadness to compare it to, and even though they led perfect lives up till that point, they could not be happy or do any good because they had not felt sadness or done any wrong. It is a similar concept to playing a game that is impossible to lose, but has no progression. You just exist to play the game. When Adam and Eve were cast out, they experienced pain, turmoil, sadness, sin, and later death. But these helped them appreciate love, life, joy, and productivity.

The death that they experienced was directly linked to the ‘original sin’ that was committed, but so was their happiness and joy.

The death that was spoken of in verse 17 wasn’t an instant death as one might think from what God told them, but the death was actually Adam and Eve becoming mortal. So yes, Adam transgressed the laws of God. That decision still effects us today. In fact, that decision is the reason we have this life to be able to learn, grow, and find our way back to God.

However, there are several beliefs out there that because of this concept of original sin, that we are all tainted and therefore if we die before baptism we are relegated to fire and brimstone. This, according to my beliefs, is not the case.

For example, we believe that a child under the age of 8 is not accountable for the sins they commit because they do not understand what they do, and they are immediately forgiven. That is similar to the a plea from Christ when he was on the cross at the end of his mortal ministry. In Luke 23:34, it reads-

34) Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

If Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten of the Father, can ask for forgiveness for these men who tortured him and hung him on the cross, then how not could he forgive a child who dies before baptism? Or a child who breaks something without any understanding? And why would a man such as this hold a sin perpetrated by our first parents millennia ago against us?

That is why the verse says that we are punished for our own sins, but not Adam’s transgression. We have a loving savior who gave all for us because of how much he cares for each of us, he is willing to forgive us and be our advocate. This allows us to become better without a sin from ages past, or even one committed in ignorance when we were five, from hanging over our heads our entire existence.

I myself have made a lot of mistakes in my life, and God will always have some way for me to make it right, through either repentance or some trial, but the only thing that I have left from Adam and Eve, our first parents, is the death that comes to us all that will one day take us back to the arms of our loving father in heaven. I live a mortal life, and every day is a gift because of them. If it weren’t for the decision they made to take the fruit and leave the garden, they would have lived forever in the Garden, never progressing, never dying, never living to the fullest.

I am thankful for Adam and Eve. The serpent beguiling them was not an accident. God, in his infinite wisdom knew that their transgression was possible and built in a way for us to still win: our savior Jesus Christ. Through his life, we learned much, and through his suffering and death, we gained so much more. He is our brother and our God and he lives.

The next post will be about the 3rd Article of Faith, and you can find that link here when it is completed.

Article of Faith #1: The Godhead

The first article of faith reads:

1) We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

This is really as basic as our beliefs get. Most every christian church believes this to some degree. Now, to clarify. This does not mean that we believe in the trinity as the Catholics or some protestants do. God, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are a grouping that we in the church call the Godhead. They are as a team that works together to complete one goal; the salvation of all mankind.

The concept of the trinity is the same general concept as the Godhead, in fact, online definitions use the word Godhead to describe the trinity. There is one difference between the general thought of the trinity and the Godhead that I speak of. It is a common idea that the trinity means that God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are the same person, that they are simply three different sides of a single being, God. In the scriptures, it does in fact state that there is one God, and that is correct. We believe that the members of the Godhead are one, but not in a literal sense of being the same person, but in the sense of being one in purpose, just as a Husband and Wife are told to be ‘one flesh’ but they do not actually meld into one being. Jesus Christ and Elohim, the Son and Heavenly Father, are two beings that work together, one being the head of the Godhead, and the other the Savior of the world. The three members of the Godhead are gods in and of themselves. These next verses depicting Christ’s baptism show their separation rather well.

Matthew 3: 13-17

13) Then cometh forth Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.

14) But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

15)And Jesus answering said unto him, suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

16)And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him.

17) And lo a voice came from heaven, saying, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

The ‘main figure’ in the verses is Jesus Christ. He is a separate being from the dove that came down from the heavens, and that dove was separate from the voice that came down from the heavens praising his Son for the thing he had just done. Jesus Christ is the Son, the dove the Holy Spirit, and the voice from the heavens was God, the Eternal Father.

Now that we know, or at least understand what the church’s beliefs are about the Godhead, let move on to what the three members of it do and what their roles are.

God, the Eternal Father, is the father of our spirits. The creation of the world was essential for one thing; the obtaining of bodies so that we can learn and progress further as God’s children. That is the reason why we say that God loves us all as his children, because we are, in fact, his children. Before this life, we lived in heaven with God, without bodies. We were spirits that had been created by God. After our creation, He placed Adam and Eve on the Earth, giving us the ability to be born into this world and gain physical bodies.

Jesus Christ was the eldest of Heavenly Father’s children in the spirit world, and he was chosen to be the only begotten of the flesh, meaning he became the literal son of God. Because of his willingness to live a mortal life and suffer and die for our sins, he became an integral part of the father’s plan to bring salvation to all men.

The Holy Ghost serves a very distinct purpose. He himself is the only member of the Godhead that does not yet have a body and therefore since he has no corporeal form, he can dwell with us. His job is to testify of truth. He testifies when someone with an open mind and a soft heart is taught about the truth. For example, I feel it when I go to church on Sunday, and I get a chance to listen to the lessons and learn more about the teachings of Christ. Because I am learning truth, the Holy Spirit is there testifying of it to me.

Now, the Godhead are all part of a plan to bring all mankind back to live with God. This plan is called the Plan of Salvation, or the Plan of Happiness. This plan is more than I can cover in this series of posts, but in due time, I will be writing a blog to present that plan to all of you. That plan includes our life with God as spirits, the life and atonement of Christ, and the afterlife when we pass on from here. All of the Articles of Faith that I talk about will have some connection to the Plan of Salvation.

The link to my next post about the Articles of Faith will be here once I have completed it.

What Do We Believe? The Articles of Faith

The Articles of Faith are the basic beliefs of the church as written by Joseph Smith, the first prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They were composed as a part of a letter to John Wentworth, the editor of the Chicago Democrat, and were also published in the Mormon run newspaper Times and Seasons. They were meant to clarify points of doctrine that were very important to Christians of the era, like the gathering of Israel, interpretation of the bible, and other things pertaining to how we live out lives as faithful members.

Many points of doctrine are still important today. Many have asked me as a member things like- Why do you have a second bible ? (referring to the book of Mormon) or even how does your church claim to have priesthood when other church’s have been around for much longer?

The answer to these are explained in the Articles of Faith, including many other questions that were answered at the time. I will be writing separate blog posts for each article so that I can help you thoroughly understand and enjoy the principles taught.

When I have the blog for Article of Faith #1 up, the link to it will be here.

 

What is most important to you? to me, it is my faith. My faith is what binds me and my family together. Because it is so important to me, I am trying to extend that to all of you using this blog. Follow me here or @LDSMichaels if you like what I have to say.