Archive | January, 2013

Our First Estate or the Pre-Earth Life: Part II

31 Jan

In the article titled “The Gospel part II: The Plan of Salvation” I spoke of three different estates that we must pass through in order to attain exaltation in Celestial Glory. Of these the first estate is our Preexistence as spirit children of our Heavenly Father. This series is written to give a more in depth explanation of what that estate was, and what happened there.

Having shown that the doctrine of the preexistence can be found in the Bible I will now proceed to give a few tidbits as to what happened to us during this time. I will point out that very little is known, and what is known deals more with generalities rather than specifics. So, I will speak of generalities in this second part of the series.

It is important to know that we are the literal children of deity. We were born as spirits to our Heavenly Father and He “lives in the family unit. We are members of his family. We lived in this pre-mortal life with him for an infinite period of time.” While there we “were schooled and trained and taught in the most perfect educational system ever devised, and that by obedience to his eternal laws we developed infinite varieties and degrees of talents.” (As quoted in The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, Chapter 41, link below).
We also know that at the beginning we were all “on the same standing with [our] brethren” (Alma 13: 5) and that we were “innocent in the beginning.” (D&C 93: 38) which is why children remain innocent before the Lord in mortality. However, through our obedience and faithfulness in this pre-mortal life many progressed faster and gained more glory and honor than others. After all we read in Abraham 3: 22 that “the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the [spirits]…before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones.”
It is obvious that while we were all equal in knowledge and ability when we were first born as spirits we did not stay equal, but through our choices we progressed at different rates. This is the basis for the doctrine of Foreordination, for of these Noble and Great ones God declared “These I will make my rulers” (Abraham 3: 23) speaking of mortal life. Because some had progressed farther than others in matter of faith and obedience God chose them before they were born to hold positions of authority in mortality. God told Abraham “thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.” He told Jeremiah the same thing (Jeremiah 1: 5).
So, we know that in our pre-mortal life we still had our agency, and with it we learned and progressed through the teachings and guidance of a loving Father. We also know that based on what we did there many of us were called to fulfill specific callings in this life.

Our First Estate, or the Pre-Earth Life: Part I

24 Jan

In the article titled “The Gospel part II: The Plan of Salvation” I spoke of three different estates that we must pass through in order to attain exaltation in Celestial Glory. Of these the first estate is our Preexistence as spirit children of our Heavenly Father. This two part article is written to give a more in depth explanation of what that estate was, and what happened there.

Now, in the first part I will show how the preexistence is taught in the Bible, for it is taught in that sacred volume, and is fairly plain to those who understand the doctrine. To be clear, it is not that we imprint our doctrine onto the Bible; it is simply that because we understand this doctrine we can see the subtle references to it that the Bible contains.

For instance, in the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 12 verse 7 we read “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”
In this verse we are told what will happen to both the physical body and the spirit that inhabits it. One goes back to the earth, to decompose and be assimilated into the elements. The spirit, on the other hand, returns to God. I would ask, “How can it return to God if it was not with God at a prior time?” So, while this verse does not state directly that we lived with God before our mortal births, the implication that we did is clear, and stated in such a way as to make it appear that such was common knowledge at the time.

Another scriptures tells the story of a man born blind. When the Apostles saw him they asked Jesus “Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” To this Christ replied “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” (John 9: 2-3)
Now, one is left to wonder how it is that the man could have caused the blindness through personal sin, as he was born with the affliction, and thus nothing in mortal life could have caused it. The obvious conclusion is that the apostles knew that we had lived as spirits before this life, and thus were asking if the man had done something prior to his birth that caused him to be born blind. If there is no preexistence than the question they asked was a moot point, and it seems to me that Christ would have taken this prime opportunity to declare this.

Now, there are other passages in the Bible that show that we existed as spirits in heaven before being born on this earth. Jeremiah was told that God knew him before he was born (Jeremiah 1: 5). Paul tells us that God knew many before this earth was formed, and them he predestined for certain blessings in this life (Romans 8:29). And we are told that we are the offspring of God (Acts 17: 28)

All these, and several more, testify to the fact that we lived as spirit children of God before the world was ever created, and that we will one day return to our Father.

Alpha and Omega

15 Jan

I believe we are all familiar with the phrases “Alpha and Omega” and the “Beginning and the End” as they are applied to Jesus Christ. I would like to take a few moments and speak of these phrases as I understand them.

The first time the phrase “Beginning and the End” is used is in the Record of Moses. In his grand vision of the creation God declares that “I am the Beginning and the End, the Almighty God; by mine Only Begotten I created these things” (Moses 2: 1) In this the phrase, or title is applied to the Father. This is the only instance in which this is done, which we will discuss later.
The second time this phrase is used is in Alma 11: 39, at which time Amulek applies it to Christ. It is later used by Christ himself when he speaks from heaven to the Nephites just before he visits them (3 Nephi 9: 18) which is also the first recorded use of the phrase, or title of Alpha and Omega.
Later, both titles are used to refer to Christ in the book of Revelation.
It is in the modern day that we get the most recorded uses of the titles. In the doctrine and covenants Alpha and Omega appears 13 times, and the Beginning and the End appears 9. Most of these are to either open or close the revelation in which they appear.

There is a third phrase, or title that is used to convey the same meaning, but it appears much less frequently. That title is “The First and the Last.” It appears four times in Revelation, once in the Book of Mormon and once in the Doctrine and Covenants.

Here is a full list of all the verses that contain one or more of these titles for Christ.
Revelation 1:8, 11, 17; 2: 8; 21: 6; 22: 13
Alma 11:39
3 Nephi 9:18
Doctrine and Covenants 19:1; 35: 1; 38: 1; 45: 7; 54: 1; 61: 1; 63: 60; 68:35; 75: 1; 81: 7; 84: 120; 110: 4; 112: 34; 132: 66
Moses 2:1

So, what is meant by these phrases. Concerning the title Alpha and Omega, we read in the Guide to the Scriptures – “Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet; Omega is the last. They are also names given to Jesus Christ and are used as symbols to show that Christ is both the beginning and the end of all creation.”

Notice that in this title it is the first and the last letter that is used from the Greek Alphabet; or it is the beginning and the end of that Alphabet that is being used as a title for Christ. This shows us that all three titles truly have the same meaning. They represent and testify to the fact that Jesus Christ is the Beginning and the End of all creation.

So, what is the beginning of Creation? Would this not be the event that is described in the first two chapters of Genesis, or the creation of this world. In fact, if we go back to the account in Moses we read “And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I reveal unto you concerning this heaven, and this earth; write the words which I speak. I am the Beginning and the End, the Almighty God; by mine Only Begotten I created these things; yea, in the beginning I created the heaven, and the earth upon which thou standest.”
God himself places the beginning at the creation of this world, and not that of others.

Then what is the end of all creation? If the beginning of Creation was the formation of this planet, is not the end of Creation the ending of this planet. We are told that John wrote “concerning the end of the world.” (1 Nephi 14: 22) So we can see that the end of creation is when Christ will sit in judgment and all of creation will receive their eternal reward. This will happen after the thousand years of the Millennium, after Satan is loosed for a time (Revelation 20: 7). Then comes the end and the consignment of the wicked to Outer Darkness and the rewarding of all else to their glory in heaven.

So, Christ is Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last; for he was the God that formed this earth in its beginning, and he will be the God that brings about the end of its creation. These titles designate the all encompassing power and influence that Christ has over this earth.

Concerning the one time that the title “Beginning and End” is used in reference to the Father; as the Son has authority to act in the name of the Father, and the two are one in power and purpose, all things that Christ does are done in the name and to the glory of the Father. So, Christ was the God that formed this earth, but he did so under the direction of the Father; Christ will be the one who judges this creation in its end, but he will do so with the authority of the Father. So, all things are done to the glory of the Father, and thus he is also the Beginning and End because this creation was made for his glory.