Friday, April 9, 2010

Are Ordinances Necessary Works or a Gracious Gift?

Some people claim ordinances are necessary "works" - because God said we must perform them, and because these ordinances will be done for all. If they will be done for all, can we take credit for performing them now? In other words, we believe that God is going to ensure that the ordinances get done, no matter that we will never be able to reconstruct our genealogical records well enough to do it on our own. Therefore, it is going to take miraculous intervention on His part for us to perform the ordinances - meaning even that is not necessary for US to do them on our own. The completion of the commandment is done through His grace.

I believe DEEPLY in the concept of eternal, saving ordinances, but I see them as "necessary" for US - a physical, visible, tangible token or sign of our determination and faith - an outward manifestation of our inner commitment. I believe they are necessary not for some checklist in the Book of Life, but rather to put our actions in harmony with our feelings and beliefs - to marry the physical with the spiritual in a real way - to embed our beliefs in practice - to be true "fruits" of our faith. Temple ordinances are a way to continually affirm, in a very physical way, that we truly are willing to turn our hearts to our fathers and, by extension, all God's children - not just those with whom we currently share this planet. I see them as a powerfully humbling framework that changes our very attitudes and perspectives in a way that merely intellectual or spiritual things simply cannot.

Does getting dunked in water miraculously cleanse me? Perhaps and perhaps not, but I KNOW it gives me an actual, physical experience which I can "remember" - that can form the foundation of my attempts to model and emulate and become like Christ. Likewise, does my getting dunked miraculously cleanse someone else? Perhaps and perhaps not, but I KNOW it gives me an actual, physical experience which I can "remember" (especially through regular reenactment) - that can keep me focused on humbly and symbolically bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man - that can keep me from the natural arrogance of focusing strictly on myself.

1 comment:

ji said...

I can't answer your question directly, but I will offer the scripture from D&C 84 (I think; I'm in a hotel without my scriptures.): The power of God is manifest through the ordinances of the priesthood. Want to see the power of God and Godliness? Watch and try to understand priesthood ordinances of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.