Friday, August 27, 2010

Charity: What is the Truth in which We Should Rejoice?

I ended my New Year's Resolution post last week, focusing on the idea that charity "rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth" with the following concluding paragraphs:

The foundation of the joy / rejoicing we seek in this life, if it is grounded in "truth" can be found in the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ - that he has gone unto the Father, that our hope in his illuminating and enabling journey is not in vain, that where he has gone we can follow. (see the full message of 1 Cointhians 13:12)

I believe that "rejoicing in truth" is elevated, if you will, by this hope, while "rejoicing in iniquity" is grounded by those things / ideas / philosophies / actions that keep such hope at bay. I will delve more deeply into specifics next week, but I felt that it was important to delineate the difference carefully in this post first.

I want to complete my resolution posts this month by delving further into the foundation of what I believe to be the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I was tempted to post several links to posts I've written in the past, but I feel like I need to try to write a new post that ties all of the central thoughts from those posts into one post. I hope and pray I can do so in a relatively concise and fluent stream of thought.

In 3 Nephi 27, Jesus gives a sort of "farewell speech" to his disciples. Verses 13-22 are of particular relevance to my resolution regarding charity this month, since I believe they contain not only the "what" of the truth in which we should rejoice but also the "how". Normally, I do not quote extensively from long passages of scriptures on this blog, but I am going to do that tonight - with my own thoughts following each verse:

13 Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.

The heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that His Father lives and sent him to do something specific - His will.

14 And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil —

The Father's will is to draw all unto the Son to receive a "judgment", based on the lives they have lived - whether they have become good or evil. (That is taking slight liberty with the text, but I believe it is consistent with the entirety of the scriptural canon in our possession.)

15 And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.

Jesus will do the will of the Father. He will "fulfill the measure of his creation" in mortality.

16 And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.

As I have written in multiple posts, "to repent" means "to see with a fresh view" - so those who are able to see with a fresh view and, because of that new view, are baptized in the name of Christ will be "filled". I believe this refers to the Holy Ghost, which gift brings insight into the personal path one must walk in order to be "drawn to Christ" and "do the will of the Father" in one's own life.

Being "filled" does not guarantee being held guiltless at the last day. That comes only to those who "remain filled" by enduring to the end - or, in the words of Matthew 5:48, become "perfect (complete, whole, fully developed) even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect".

17 And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father.

Quitting in the process of becoming (stagnating and not continuing to grow) is what damns (makes of no worth).

18 And this is the word which he hath given unto the children of men. And for this cause he fulfilleth the words which he hath given, and he lieth not, but fulfilleth all his words.

God keeps his word.

19 And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.

We all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) Therefore, none of us, in and of ourselves, are "clean" and worthy of entrance into the kingdom. Our cleanliness is a direct result of our willingness to be washed in his blood - and that occurs at the practical level by believing so deeply and strongly that we change ("exercising faith unto repentance" - Alma 34: 15-17) continually and constantly until the very end, when we reach completion, wholeness and full development and change no longer is necessary.

20 Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.

Communing with God occurs through the sanctifying presence of the Holy Ghost, so, in a nutshell, we are drawn to the Father by accepting the Son and communing with the Spirit without ceasing (even amid our stumbling and falling and temporary failing).

21 Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do;

Our charge is simple: Do what Jesus did. How that plays out exactly in our own lives is to be directed by the Holy Ghost, but, at the heart, our purpose simply is to emulate the life of Jesus to the degree that it is possible for us and in the ways we fell led to embrace as we commune with the Holy Ghost.

22 Therefore, if ye do these things blessed are ye, for ye shall be lifted up at the last day.

Surely, this is our hope and the "goal" of our faith.

This, I believe, is the "truth" in which charity rejoiceth - that even though death and iniquity affect and are a part of all who have lived, ALL have the opportunity to repent (change) and rise above that "natural man" and be drawn to the Father through the Son. Charity rejoiceth in this truth, I believe, when we recognize the universal application and reach of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, grant him the power to embrace and reach all, and, in turn, embrace and reach out to all throughout our lives - until the end - as he did in his own life.

We cannot give up on ourselves, and we cannot give up on others. We must rejoice in the truth that God loves all his children and sent Jesus to live, be lifted up and draw all his children back to him. There will be some who choose to reject that plan, but we must avoid acting as Judge or jury by loving and serving all with whom we come into contact - to some degree, as our own circumstances allow and promptings motivate.

1 comment:

Rich Alger said...

This post is the essence of my testimony. Thanks so much for sharing