January 16, 2010

Our Own Lost 116 Pages

Joseph Smith translating the plates by Robert T. Barrett
In the book of Doctrine of Covenants we learn of a story in which the Prophet Joseph Smith was commanded to translate the ancient record of the ancient inhabitants of America. These people knew of Christ and recorded their testimonies about him in what we know of today as the Book of Mormon. As Joseph began to translate this record he was asked by his scribe Martin Harris to allow him to show the completed manuscript to his wife. Joseph was very reluctant to allow Martin to do this, but prayed to the Lord because of Martin’s insistencies. First the Lord told Joseph that he was not allowed to give the transcript to Martin. However, after asking two more times the Lord granted Martin Harris the chance to show the documents to his wife and a few other specific people.

A few weeks later Martin returned to the home of Joseph without the manuscript. He had lost the 116 page manuscript and had no idea where it was. All the work they had done was lost. For a time the spirit withdrew from Joseph and he was left to sorrow after the loss, not knowing what would come in the future. However, the Lord had planned for this mistake, centuries before when He commanded the ancient prophet Nephi to make two accounts of his record; one that was more historical, the second more spiritual in nature. When Joseph was again allowed to translate the ancient record, he was told to translate the second account. This was to ensure that those who had stolen the original manuscript would not be able to use it to damage the Church of God by changing it or adding to it for their own benefit. Thus, we learn that the Lord in His wisdom had planned for this error on the part of Joseph thousands of years before. He knew exactly how things would unroll and had made compensation for those events that would happen in the future.

Each of us has our own lost 116 pages in essence. Each of us has made severe mistakes that will not only thwart the work of God, but will prevent us from blessing the lives of others to the full extent that we could otherwise. Often these are direct sins that we have committed, while other times they are careless mistakes we have made, or circumstances that we could not prevent. On our own, these events would make eternal progression impossible. Yet, as shown by this story of Joseph and the lost 116 pages, the Lord knows all things. He has provided for a way for us to overcome all things. Even our very sins have been not only forgiven but the wrongs we have committed will be made right. This means that when we sin or make a mistake we can know that we can be not only forgiven but that those who we have offended or hurt will likewise be blessed to have all things resorted unto them as if we had never sinned against them.

In short, compensation has been made for not only our personal actions, but the consequences of our actions. Because of this we can put our faith in the Lord that He can and will make all things whole. When we make a mistake, we must move forward and allow the power of the atonement to work in us and in those around us. As we learn of this power, we will have an increased faith in the Savior. We will know that we can do all things, and that no matter how many times we make a mistake, the Lord has provided a way for us to overcome it. Because He knows all things, we will never surprise Him with a new problem or a new challenge that He is not quite sure how to overcome. In fact, He has already proved a means to overcome all things centuries before we came to this earth by allowing the His Son to suffer in a garden called Gethsemane. Because the Savior knew all things that would happen, He paid the price for ALL sins and made ALL things right.

I invite you to look in the scriptures for moments like that of the lost 116 pages where the Lord made compensation for that which would take place in the future. As we learn of these stories we will increase in faith and hope that the Lord will do the same for us. This is my testimony, that the Lord has made all things right, not just after we have made a mistake, but centuries before hand, showing His power and eternal love for us. I have seen His power in my own life and have seen time and time again when He has made full compensation for those mistakes and sins that I have committed. Let us go forward in faith and not look back on the past, let us put our faith in the Lord who WILL make ALL things right!

January 13, 2010

Destruction vs. Salvation

Last night while I was reading Alma 26-28 it appeared to me that Mormon was trying to juxtapose several stories together to show the power of the atonement and the love of the Lord. It seems that the placement of his stories, the repetition of certain words and phrases, and the contrasts he shows can only be due to a desire on Mormon’s part to teach us a valuable lesson. Before I begin to explain, it is important to read these chapters and note the following contrasts and words: darkness vs. light, destruction vs. salvation, death vs. life, and mercy, love, and gratitude.

Chapter 26 opens with Ammon glorifying the Lord for His wondrous mercies. Ammon and his brethren had just completed a prosperous mission to the Lamanites in which thousands were converted to the gospel. He then comments in verses 17-20 on how they as brethren had faced destruction because they desired to destroy the church and then were saved from this destruction due to the mercy of God. He then recounts how the Nephites had similarly desired to destroy the Lamanites because of their wickedness (vs. 23-26) and that Ammon and his brethren preferred to spare their souls as they felt that the gospel could change their hearts. It appears that Ammon realized that he should have been destroyed because of his evil acts, yet because God was merciful and patient He spared his life and brought him great light and joy. Seeing this blessing brought into his life helped him to want to likewise bring salvation instead of destruction to his brethren the Lamanites.

Chapter 27 is somewhat of a transition point in which we learn that again these converted Lamanites face destruction and yet are now saved by the very Nephites who had earlier desired to destroy them. Then in chapter 28 we learn that because of the anger of the unconverted Lamanites a tremendous battle takes place wherein thousands are slain (Mormon states that this destruction of life is one of the greatest since the time of Lehi). Again, it would seem very purposeful that these stories of salvation and destruction are placed next to each other, juxtaposing the true meaning of being saved. Those who were valiant in the gospel did not face destruction, only death, while the unrepentant face true destruction in addition to facing death (see vs. 27:28). To make his point all the more powerful, Mormon concludes his comparisons with these words: “And thus we see the great call of diligence of men to labor in the vineyards of the Lord; and thus we see the great reason of sorrow, and also of rejoicing—sorrow because of death and destruction among men, and joy because of the light of Christ unto life” (28:14).

So what does this mean for us? How can this be applied to our lives? Each of us in our own way faces destruction because of our sins. According to the laws of justice we each should face death as a consequence for our sins. Yet, the Lord has provided a way for the destroying power of sin to be reversed. Through the atonement of Christ we are enabled (like Ammon and his brethren and the converted Lamanites) to be saved from eminent destruction and be brought to know of true joy and light. As in the words of Ammon, who so perfectly states this teaching, “Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things” (26:12). Let us, like these valiant individuals, look to Christ so that we may avoid destruction AND bring this light to others that they, like us, may avoid destruction and know of true joy and light!