Thursday, August 2, 2012

For why not speak of the Atonement of Christ

I just started reading in the book of Jacob, a prophet who wrote in the Book of Mormon. Wow! While reading it, you can't help but feel that he was writing directly to us. He addresses so many problems rampant today. He begins a sermon denouncing the raging infidelity so prevalent in his day and in our day as well. Moral virtue is scoffed today. The rule seems to be, "if s/he doesn't know, there isn't any problem." He also addresses people who get so caught up in the race for wealth and the pride that chases amassed wealth. He mentions that seeking wealth isn't bad, if we have already sought out a testimony of the Savior and if we use the wealth to help others. Pretty solid wisdom, especially considering today's theme seems to be make money and sex! If you're not doing that then you're weird. Followers of Christ choose a different path.

That, however, wasn't the point I wanted to make. I wanted to address the 4th chapter. What first caught my attention was Jacob describing the difficulty it took to record those words. They were etching on metal plates, which was probably pretty hard. This is coming from a guy who thinks writing on paper is too hard. Shoot, I even get tired just typing this blog. But, Jacob and the others before and after went through so much to etch words onto metal sheets! How did he feel about all that trouble? And why go through all that trouble? They rejoiced in that labor!! They were happy to do it! They got some sort of weird joy from doing this (vs 4). So, why all the weird joy? They got this joy out of etching these teachings because they wanted their children and grandchildren and even you and me today to be able to know about Christ and to receive the same joy and blessings they received from following Him (vs 3-4). They wanted us to learn with joy the words that they etched with joy (vs 3).

So, let me ask you: do you get joy out of reading the scriptures? I wish it were that easy. I wish that I could just put down the Bible, Book of Mormon, or other and just shout "wow!" "What a plot twist!" "I feel so SPIRITUAL!!!" Alas, that's not often the case. For some reason, reading the scriptures isn't like reading Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or any other book I love. In fact, sometimes I feel sleepy after only a few verses.

However, I find that if I approach it in the right mind set, if I make it a more proactive experience, I get more out of it. I've seen that these past few days. I have been trying to be an active reader. I have been going through every chapter, writing what I thought some of the key points were. I have noticed that I am more actively looking for themes, teachings, and by extension, spiritual experiences. And I have had them. I feel good after reading them. I feel joy, like I didn't think was before possible from just reading words. It isn't a joy that watching Modern Family will give me, nor is it the same joy that I get from being with my girlfriend. Nonetheless, it is joy. Pure joy, sent from a caring Father in Heaven.

The sixth verse concludes this point. We are taught that if we study the scriptures then we will receive revelations (guidance from God through the Holy Spirit). This revelation provides us with both hope and faith. Hope is an assurance that good will come from doing what we are supposed to. I have hope that God really will reward us when we do what he says. Faith is a belief in things that we can't see. I have faith that our Lord really does exist and really does care about us. Then, he teaches us that this faith and hope leads to us being able to receive miracles in our lives. And, let's be honest, miracles make us happy!

To recap: scripture study-->revelation-->faith and hope-->miracles=joy!

So, it really is possible to have joy when you're reading the scriptures. YES!!! You just need to approach it in the right way. Verse 7 talks about being humble after receiving those blessings and that joy. Remember, God gives them and we should pass off what we can to others who are less fortunate.

He finishes off the chapter by explaining how we should "reconcile" ourselves to God--how we should make ourselves square with God if you catch my drift. This is only possible through the Atonement, His sacrifice (vs 11). He finishes the chapter by expressing his love for the Atonement and its simplicity. I too will end by sharing my gratitude for the Atonement of our Savior and for the simple joy that we receive from reading about His Atonement!

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