Friday, January 8, 2016

A Plan for Salvation – Part III

Continuing from the previous post regarding the Plan for our Salvation. 
    In that meeting in the pre-mortal world, where coming to an earth for a mortal body was discussed, God the Father, after presenting his Plan asked, “Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first” (Abraham 3:27). And the Lord told Abraham, “And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him” (Abraham 3:28).
    The difference in the Plans submitted by God and by Lucifer, were over free agency. God wanted each of us to be free to choose good or evil and thereby earn the right to exaltation along with the free gift of eternal life.
Satan, on the other hand, wanted to take away free agency and force man to behave and have no choice in the matter. As Delbert L. Stapley in General Conference stated on this, “one of God’s most precious gifts to man is the principle of free agency—the privilege of choice which was introduced by God the Eternal Father to all of his spirit children in the pre-mortal state. This occurred in the great council in heaven before the peopling of this earth. The children of God were endowed with freedom of choice while yet but spirit beings. The divine plan provided that they be freeborn in the flesh and become heirs to the inalienable birthright of liberty to choose and act for themselves in mortality. It was essential for their eternal progression that they be subjected to the influences of both good and evil” (CR, “Using Our Free Agency,” April 1975).
    The ancient Nephite prophet and progenitor, Lehi, said on this matter: “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so…righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad” (2 Nephi 2:11).
    It was plainly taught by Joseph Smith that we were all created in the express image of God the Father (D&C 77:2), which is just as true of the spirit as it is of the body, which is only the clothing of the spirit, its complement; the two together constituting the soul—thus the spirit of man is in the form of man, and the spirits of all creatures are in the likeness of their bodies (Joseph F. Smith, John R. Winder, and Anthon H. Lund, the First Presidency, in James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4:203).
    As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we have this gift of free agency to use in our mortal lives. We must be tried, tested, and proved to see if we will choose the right and do all things whatsoever the Lord our God shall command us. As spirit children of God, we have built-in powers of conscience sufficient to develop our free agency in right choices and to acquire qualities of goodness, humility, and integrity of purpose
President Wilford Woodruff put it this way: “We are in a great school; and it is a profitable one, in which we are receiving very important lessons from day to day. We are taught to cultivate our minds, to control our thoughts to thoroughly bring our whole being into subjection to the spirit and law of God, that we may learn to be one and act as the heart of one man, that we may carry out the purposes of God upon the earth.” (Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 10–11.)
    And for all of this to work, four great principles must be in force if there is to be agency:
1. Laws must exist, laws ordained by an Omnipotent power, laws which can be obeyed or disobeyed;
2. Opposites must exist—good and evil,virtue and vice, right and wrong—that is, there must be an opposition, one force pulling against the other;
3. A knowledge of good and evil must be had by those who are to enjoy their agency—they must know the difference between the opposites; and
4. An unfettered power of choice must prevail.
    But we are not alone in this battle of good and evil. We have not been cast off, as Jacob taught the Nephites: “And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off” (2 Nephi 10:20). A loving Heavenly Father has given us knowledge of the pathway back into His presence. As Brigham Young taught: “God gave us the everlasting gospel, the principles of life and salvation, and has left it up to each of us to choose or reject, with the understanding that we become responsible to him for the results of our acts."
God has endowed man with free agency to choose for himself whether he will be good or evil…the choice is up to each individual, not by force, but by our willingness to obey God
    The Lord does not force anyone to embrace the gospel, and he will not force them to live it if they have embraced it. Individuals have the agency to act for themselves, and act from choice” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 57).
    But Satan is not ignorant of what is going on. He exerts his greatest power when God has a work to do among his children on earth. Every dispensation of the gospel since the beginning of time has come to a close, not because God has failed, but because man has failed God by the improper use of his free agency.
    It is most evident in the world today that Satan is raging in the hearts of men. It is a day, according to the Lord, when Satan shall have power over his own dominions. He began his deceitful promotions upon our first parents, Adam and Eve, and has continued his beguiling and enticing practices constantly since then. It is being done most effectively and alarmingly in our present generation.
    No one is immune from Satan’s power. Even the Savior was sorely tempted by him three different times, and each time the Lord refused to submit to Satan's deceitful temptations.
    As part of our test, we also may be subjected to temptation as was Christ, for the Lord has said:
    And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet” (D&C 29:39).
    Bruce R. McConkie explained that: “Agency is given to man as an essential part of the great plan of redemption.” (Mormon Doctrine, Bookcraft, 1966 ed., p. 26.)
    All men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother, and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity. God created man in His own image is a truism just as much pertaining to the spirit as it is of the body.
It was God who placed us here on this Earth, not man. No matter man’s opinions or feelings on the matter, it was God who decided upon our being here in the conditions each of us have been placed
    Thus it can be seen that all spirits entered into Earth Life in the same state of being, each progressing from what they learned, achieved and understood from the previous estate. At some point in time, each will progress to the next Estate, i.e., Eternal Life, and find their placement there a result of their overall accomplishments in the previous estate--Earth Life. LDS doctrine on this matter is not racism, or even pertains to race at all, any more than is God’s overall Plan of Salvation. All men and women have the same opportunities from their earliest organization into spirits from intelligences through the entire plan to their achievement in eternal life, which is a free gift from God and not dependent upon any act of any individual. However, exaltation, is not a free gift—it has to be earned.
(See the next post, “A Plan for Salvation – Part IV,” continuing from this post regarding the Plan for our Salvation and the basis for exaltation)


  1. I noticed you said "everyone can fail". Hmm. Have you been excommunicated yet? Is it not present day LDS doctrine that God guarantees the church President will never fail the church? If one believes President Monson should be sustained, what do they think should happen to an otherwise faithful member who claims a legitimate controversy over him and does not sustain him?

  2. No. I said mankind fails God ("because man has failed God by the improper use of his free agency")--this was in reference to a general statement of man (all inclusive), not a singular case of "a man." Man had reference to "man in general" referring to the level of sin, corruption, and evil brought about by man using his free agency. It was not suggestive that "everyone can fail," although I suppose that is a truism, since only the Lord lived a perfect life. However, the difference between perfection and blatant evil, of which I was speaking regarding the world in general, which is a far cry from a world exercising their free agency properly for the benefit of self and others, has brought about great evil in the world—from world wars to the wanton killing of babies, to the adoption of anti-God evolution, to world-wide sufferage due to rejection of God—which I mentioned such evils are getting worse and worse as can be evidenced around us today (the open attack on God and Christ today).
    As for the website you mentioned and its contents, we are speaking of two very separate issues here. In brief, no one is perfect, God uses imperfect men and women to run his Church, any which person can fail in their efforts toward perfection. But the point is we are agents unto ourselves, i.e., the Lord requires of us to rely upon our own choices to gain exaltation, not try to ride another's coattails (we are the children of Abraham; my father is a bishop; my mother’s family were pioneers and settled Coalville), thus, we can only save ourselves, no one else, though our efforts can be helpful to another by example.
    Also, the Lord has set up a series of balances to make sure we know that we will fail from time to time as will all people, but that does not mean that all people will perform blatant evil deeds (some will speaking of people in general, such as those who lead entire groups and nations into evil—in my lifetime, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Tojo, Hussein, etc.) but some people gain such a level of development (say Mother Teresa), they rise above the mundane acts of man and their sins are far less than another's—we cannot lump all people together.
    Finally, since each of us has free agency, we are free to act according to our conscience. That is, we can vote any way we choose in elections such as a new President for the U.S. coming up soon to local school board; however, voting in the Church is different than that—we have what is called a vote of common consent (D&C 124:144). In effect, we vote to sustain (1828: bear, uphold, support, as a foundation sustains the superstructure; to support in any condition by aid; to assist or relieve; to endure without failing or yielding; to maintain; that which upholds; Current: strengthen or support physically or mentally; comfort, help, assist, encourage, succor, support, give strength to) Church decisions, Church appointments, people in positions, programs, new members, etc. (continued below)

  3. We do not vote to show our agreement as much as to show our support, i.e., we vote to sustain a person in their calling; we vote to support a policy; we vote to express our agreement and future participation of something or someone. To that extent, we have the right to vote for, or against, but not in the sense of a democracy. Personally, I have been in meetings where good, active members have disagreed with a proposal or a person, and voted in opposition. I have never seen a case where that vote of opposition was not dealt with immediately (after the meeting) and the person given a voice in his/her disagreement to the proper authority. Nor have I ever seen a case where someone voting in opposition was frowned upon by the Ward, Stake or Church (I know less about the Church overall than Wards and Stakes because of my past callings and positions), or mistreated, or faced with any ongoing difficulty or problem.
    I am aware, though that the doctrine of common consent is meaningless if members are unable to express their dissatisfaction, and this appears to be the only way to do so that is also doctrinally approved. In fact, “Elder N. Eldon Tanner described dissenting votes in General Conference as being an opportunity for members to personally address a General Authority and express their opinion. Far from discouraging dissenting votes, Elder Tanner even instructed the ushers to notify him if he happened to miss any opposing vote.”
    However, it is expected that such opposing votes would be peaceful and not disruptive to the meeting in which they are cast.
    There is much more that could be written, but this blog is not designed to get into debates. It is about the Book of Mormon and the scriptural record in all its beliefs and statements, history, geography, and doctrine. Sometimes in answering questions, we get into wider areas, but it is the ancient record to which we devote our efforts.