Sunday, January 27, 2008

We Thank Thee, Oh God, for a Prophet!

Today, at approximately 7:00 pm Mountain Time, President Gordon Bitner Hinckley, Prophet, Seer, Revelator, Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, passed away.
President Hinckley served as President for the Church since 1995 after serving several decade as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. I was fourteen when he became president of the Church. During his presidency, I gained an unshakable testimony of the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He called me to serve in the Ecuador Quito Mission. I met and married Misty, and our two children were born. I graduated from BYU with a degree in history. And I almost have finished my degree in law at Baylor University.

I will always remember him as the Prophet of greatest influence in my life. For it was during the formative years that I had the privilege of his ministry. I will miss him.

I testify that Gordon Bitner Hinckely was in fact the Prophet of the Lord Jesus Christ. I testify that he walked and talked with Jesus and that he was Jesus' mouthpiece. I also testify that President Hinckely has returned to Jesus and continues his ministry to those who did not receive the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this life.

Thomas Spencer Monson who is now the Senior Apostle will soon be called, set apart, and ordained President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I also testify that President Monson is also a Prophet and the Lord's chosen servant to guide His Church in this time, the prelude to the Lord's Second coming.

So I'll ask you to forgive me for not writing part three of the Law of Grace. I've got mixed emotions right now: sorrow for losing a mentor, but joy because President Hinckley has returned home after a life well lived.
To read the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' official press release of the Prophet's passing, click here.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Mormons and the Bible

To read an excellent essay about the role of the Bible in the lives and worship of Mormons, click here.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Law of Grace: Part II

Jesus Christ, Our Only Hope

By ourselves, it is impossible to escape the demands of justice. And if we are left to ourselves, we will suffer the pains of hell until justice is satisfied. But because God, our Heavenly Father loves us, He has provided a means to satisfy the demands of justice while at the same time snatching us from the torment of hell: His Son Jesus Christ.
There is no other way whereby we can be saved except through the merits and mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. (Mosiah 3:17; Helaman 5:9). And Jesus' nature enabled Him to effectuate His infinite and eternal atonement. Jesus is the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh, literally the Son of God, possessing all attributes of Godhood. Further, Jesus is also the "seed of the woman," (see Genesis 3:15; Moses 4:21), which gave Him power to subject Himself to death and the afflictions of the flesh. This dual nature made Jesus Christ, and only Him, able to satisfy the demands of justice so He can extend grace to all the inhabitants of the Earth.

Son of God

Jesus Christ is the literal Son of God in the flesh. (Luke 1:31-35; 1 Nephi 11:13-21). Throughout His ministry, Jesus reminded those He taught that Joseph the Carpenter was not His father. (See e.g. Luke 2:42-49 Note Jesus' gentle rebuke when Mary told Him that she and his "father" (Joseph) had "sought [Him] sorrowing: "wist ye not that I must be about my Father's (God's) business). And because God is His Father, Jesus inherited the traits of Godhood and was born free from the effects of the Fall, that is spiritual and physical death.

Remember that spiritual death is to be cut off from the presence of God. (Helaman 14:16-18). There are two spiritual deaths. (Id.). The first happens when we are born. Before Adam and Eve fell, they enjoyed God's presence, and He walked with and talked to them. (See Genesis 3:8; Moses 4: 14-16). But when they fell, God no longer walked and talked with them. (Moses 5:4). And all of us as children of Adam and Eve are under this curse. The resurrection of Christ redeems us from this first spiritual death. (See Redemption from the Fall). The second spiritual death comes because of our sins. When we sin, we cut ourselves off from the presence of God in that we are not worthy to enjoy His presence. This death, as we are currently discussing, can only be overcome through Jesus Christ's atonement.

But Jesus was not subject to either spiritual death. The first spiritual death had no hold on Jesus because His Father was not a descendant of Adam and Eve and, therefore, not subject to the effects of the Fall. Furthermore, although He was tempted in all things, Jesus never yielded to sin. (Hebrews 4:15). Thus, the Father [never] left [Jesus] alone; for [He] [did] always those things that [pleased] [the Father]." (John 8:29). And had Jesus sinned, He would not have been able to suffer for us. Instead, He would have suffered for His own sins.

Think about the times in your life when you felt the closest to God. Imagine feeling that way all day every day. I suppose that is what Jesus felt at all times during His life and ministry. (Yes, there is a significant exception, but to discuss it would put us farther in our discussion than we are prepared to go.)

Physical death had no hold on Jesus either. Through His Father, Jesus received "life in himself." (John 5:26). No one had power to take His life. (John 10:17-18). And if Jesus had wanted, He could have lived forever without tasting death.

Seed of the Woman

While Jesus' Father is God, the Eternal Father, His mother was mortal Mary. Through her, Jesus inherited the traits of mortality. And although His divine nature superseded these traits, Jesus could choose to subject Himself to the infirmities of the flesh, including death. (See Alma 7:10-12). And had Jesus not been born of a mortal woman, He could not have died.
Jesus needed to have this dual nature to satisfy the demands of justice. As the prophet Amulek taught:

And now, behold, I will testify unto you of myself that these things are true. Behold, I say unto you, that I do know that Christ shall come among the children of men, to take upon him the transgressions of his people, and that he shall atone for the sins of the world; for the Lord God hath spoken it.

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 hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made.

For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice.

Now there is not any man that can sacrifice his own blood which will atone for the sins of another. Now, if a man murdereth, behold will our law, which is just, take the life of his brother? I say unto you, Nay.

But the law requireth the life of him who hath murdered; therefore there can be nothing which is short of an infinite atonement which will suffice for the sins of the world. (Alma 34:8-12).
The rams and bullocks of the law of Moses could not blot out a person's transgressions. A man being finite and mortal could only suffer for his own sins. Yet the Son of God, even Jesus Christ, being Infinite and Eternal had the capacity to suffer infinitely for all sin. And the Seed of the Woman, had the capacity to suffer death in the flesh, while His divine nature empowered Him to take His body again in the resurrection, never to be separated from it again!

Truly, there is "no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent." (Mosiah 3:17).

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Law of Grace: Part I

I've been neglecting the "Plan of Salvation" series of links I put up on the right hand side of my blog. Part of the reason is that I want to write about more than I have time to. So instead of sitting down and writing an entire essay about each topic, I'll be breaking each topic up into parts. Today, here is the first part of "The Law of Grace."

Also, for those of you who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, if you would like to know more about the Church, we have full-time missionaries in your area. To invite the missionariese to come visit you, click here. I will also put a permanent link to the right if you ever feel the need to have them come over.

The Law of Grace: Part I
For centuries theologians, priests, ministers, and laypersons have debated the doctrine of salvation. The scriptures teach that it is by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ that we are saved, yet they also stress the importance of good works. After all, even Jesus said, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 7:21). During this ongoing debate, most stress one while ignoring the other while others conflate the two. The purpose of this essay is to define the role of both grace and works in the Plan of Salvation and to testify that it is only in and through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ---Grace---that we are saved while our works "bring[] [us] unto [and keep us within] the power of the Redeemer, unto the salvation of [our] souls." (Helaman 5:11).
"The Law: Justice"

Before we can discuss the role of graces or works within the Plan of Salvation, we need to understand why we need salvation in the first place. As we have discussed in a prior post, the Fall of Man, while allowing us to enter into mortality, also subjected us to sin. Sin is when we know the will of God and fail to comply with it. (James 4:17; see also 1 John 3:4). All of us have sinned. (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10).

And God has revealed His will to us through commandments. All commandments, or the law, are insights into the nature of happiness, or in other words, the nature God. (Alma 41:11). So when we fail to keep the commandments, we are living in a way that will eventually bring us sorrow, even though some may find pleasure in their wickedness for a season. Some commandments, like the Law of Moses, have been superseded, while others, such as the commandment to repent, have been in effect since Adam. (See 3 Ne. 9:17 (stating that Christ fulfilled the Law of Moses); Moses 5:6-8 (stating that an angel commanded Adam to repent and do all that he did in the name of the Son)).

Every man, woman, and child who is accountable for his actions must keep the commandments. If he does not, then he must face the consequences of his failure. We have all seen blindfolded lady justice with her sword drawn holding a scale. Her scales must remain in equilibrium. But each time we break a commandment, or sin, they tip against us. And there is only one way to return them to balance: punishment. (2 Ne. 2:5, 10; Alma 42:18).

The punishment justice demands when we sin is spiritual death. (Helaman 14:17). Spiritual death is when we are cut off from the presence of the Lord. (Alma 42:9). Those who suffer this death are those who are sent to hell, (2 Ne. 9:12) which is also called outer darkness, (Matthew 8:12; Matthew 22:13; Matthew 25:30; Alma 40:13; D&C 101:91; D&C 133:73). And when we consider that "nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar his face is to us," being cut off from our loving Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ will be more painful that we can ever imagine. (See Ezra Taft Benson, "Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations," Speeches of the Year, 1974, 1975, 313).

Now, our discussion of justice would be incomplete if we did not consider the other edge of lady justice's sword. When we keep the commandments, or the law, we will be blessed. For example, if we obey the commandment to pay tithes and offerings, the Lord promises to pour out blessings from heaven and to "rebuke the devourer for [our] sakes." (Malachi 3:8-12). Search the scriptures and you will find many other blessings that come through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

But there is one thing obeying the commandments cannot do: Obedience will not and cannot pay the debt we owe to justice because of our sins. (Galatians 3:11; 2 Ne. 2:5, 10). Therefore, by ourselves, it is impossible to escape the chains of hell, for justice cannot be denied. (See Alma 42:25).

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Uncertainty riddles life. In fact, what will happen tomorrow is generally unknown. Thankfully, God speaks to us, His children. He's spoken through Prophets like Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joseph Smith, Gordon B. Hinckley, and others. And He also speaks to us personally, if we're seeking Him and listening for His guidance. At times, however, He guides us to a point and then leaves us to make our own decisions.
God did this with an ancient Prophet known as "the Brother of Jared" in the Book of Mormon. Jared and his brother lived at the time of the tower of Babel. (Ether 1:33). When God confounded the language of the people at the tower, Jared asked his brother to pray to God so that He would not confound their language, the language of their families, and the language of their friends. (Ether 1:34-37). God listened and did not confound their language. (Id.) Jared then asked his brother to pray and to ask God if He would guide them to a chosen land. (Ether 1:38). God listened and promised to lead them to a choice land where He would make them a great nation. (Ether 1:39-43).
The Lord appeared to the them in a cloud and guided Jared, his brother, their families, and their friends through the wilderness until they came to the ocean. (Ether 2:5-7, 13). After four years, the Lord spoke to the Brother of Jared in a cloud and commanded him to build barges in which they would cross the ocean. (Ether 2:14-17). The Brother of Jared obeyed, and He and those with him built boats as they were taught to do by the Lord. (Ether 2:16-17). The boats were airtight and capable of being submersed in the water. But there were two problems with them: There was no air inside the barges, (Ether 2:19) and there was no light either. (Ether 2:22).
The Brother of Jared went to the Lord for guidance. The Lord heard his prayers and directed the Brother of Jared to make two holes in each boat which could be stopped to keep water out. (Ether 2:19-21). When they needed air, they could unstop the holes, but if water started coming in, they could close the hole. (Id.). But God did not tell the Brother of Jared what to do about the darkness in the boats. Instead, He asked the Brother of Jared to tell Him what He should do to give them light. (Ether 2:23-25).
The Brother of Jared was left alone to resolve his own problem. At length and after what must have been a time of stretching, he made sixteen glass stones and brought them before the Lord. (Ether 3:1). He then asked the Lord to touch the stones so they would shine in the darkness. (Ether 3:2-5). And God listened, stretched forth His finger, touched the stones, and made them glow. (Ether 3:6).
Then something even more marvelous happened. The Brother of Jared saw the Lord's finger touching the stone. (Id.). He fell in fear thinking the Lord would smite him. (Ether 3:6-9). And then the Lord revealed Himself to the Brother of Jared and said:

Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters.

And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast. Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image?
Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image.

Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh. (Ether 3:14-16).
There was a reason why the Lord made the Brother of Jared come up with his own solution. Perhaps the Brother of Jared wouldn't have been able to see the Lord unless he went through that time of stretching.

Right now, my family and I are going through our own time of stretching. We've been guided in the wilderness as the Lord has directed us to come to law school. He has helped us through the entire experience. And now we're at our own ocean to cross. That is, we need to find somewhere to work.

We've been struggling with this process for months, but no job opportunities have resulted in actual jobs. Yet with each application, it's as if we're holding a stone before the Lord, asking Him to touch it.
As of yet, He hasn't touched any of them.

Nevertheless, He will touch one. And I'm certain that this struggle also has a purpose. There is something we are to learn. Whether it's increased patience, faith, or trust in the Lord or whether it's actually receiving a personal visit from the Lord, we don't know.

But when the Lord extends His finger and touches one of our job applications, we will see His finger, just as we have seen Him guiding us from BYU to Baylor and now back to Utah, as we continue to travel through the wilderness en route to the promised land.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Dispelling Myths about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

If the above video is not loading, click here to view this ten-minute presentation dispelling myths about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

And if all else fails, here is the link to the original site.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


A Mormon Journalist in Oregon wrote this on his blog about recent attacks on Mormons via Mitt Romney's campaign. However, the author is a little suspect because he confesses that he doesn't like BYU football.