Saturday, November 28, 2009

LDS Temple Marriage and Ring Ceremonies

LDS believe that a husband and wife can not only be married "for as long as you both shall live" but also "for time and eternity." However, eternal marriage can only be done in LDS temples. LDS Temple sealings can result in hurt feelings when younger siblings and even non-LDS parents are not permitted to enter the LDS Temple and witness the ceremony. While God is no respecter of persons, and everyone is invited to enter the LDS Temple; like the Jewish temple in the Bible, an individual must meet certain requirements of purification before doing so. While families generally accept this explanation, someone asked me recently about why LDS discourage LDS couples from having a public civil marriage before the temple sealing and even punish those who do by not allowing them a temple sealing for 1 year afterwards. Instead of a full marriage ceremony, couples can do a simple but meaningful "ring ceremony" preceeding a wedding reception. The exchange of rings is not part of the LDS sealing, and is purely seen as a good cultural tradition. Therefore, a "ring ceremony" can be a sincere, and meaningful way family can participate and witness the union. Doing a faux or sham wedding ceremony would be meaningless to the LDS couple and everyone involved.

Q: The God of the New Testament would never cause hurt feelings, offend, or cause discontent within a family.

A: I agree that no true Christian would maliciously hurt or offend another without cause. However, God is known as the great physician. And as a physician, sometimes a small bit of pain is required up front for healing to occur down the road. While individual members decision to come unto Christ may cause discontent among others in the family because of what they perceive is an misguided, unthankful and even arrogant "holier-than-thou" rejection of their cultural heritage, values, and tradition, the end promise of God to families is that they can be unified and sealed together for eternity.

Matt 10: 34-37 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.And a man ’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Q: The God of the New Testament would never be exclusive about who can be saved, who can enter a church, or who can enter heaven. We are all sinners and all have need of a physician and all who seek to come unto Christ should be welcome.

A. The LDS temple serves a different purpose than the LDS chapel building does. While the general public is welcome to LDS Sunday and weekly services, the temple is reserved for only those who have met certain requirements of sanctification and purification. Yes, while we are all sinners and are initially "rescued," "saved" and "justified" from sin, death and hell by the grace of Christ alone and not works, after coming to Christ, Christ promises us that He will begin and empower the process of "sanctification" and preparation to enter into the presence of, commune with, and fellowship with The Father. After the initial Justification in Christ, the Sanctifying and purifying empowerment of Christ is exactly what the LDS and New Testament Temple and Covenant is all about. This is why there are rules about who can enter the temple. 1 Cor 5:11 and revelation to living prophets is the basis for the requirements to enter into the New Testament Temple.

1 Cor 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

As far as being selective about who can attend a wedding, no one should forget the lesson of the 10 virgins where only the 5 with extra oil were permitted into the wedding. The lesson of this parable is precisely why LDS maintain a strict policy with regard to who can enter into LDS temples. Temples symbolize entering into the presence of Our Father in Heaven and enjoying Fellowship with the Father.

Temple requirements aside, why can't the LDS Church just permit couples to do a civil marriage before or after the temple sealing so that parents and grandparents are not shut out of what is one of the most important events in their child's life.

A: The reason LDS do not generally approve of civil unions before the temple sealing, is to not lessen the importance of the temple sealing. If the LDS church were to make it routine to do civil unions before the temple sealings, the generally extravagant out-of-temple ceremonies would likely drown out the quieter impression that the simple temple sealing is to elicit.

While the LDS do not approve its members from doing civil unions before or after the temple sealing, LDS do approve couples to do a simple "ring ceremony". The "ring exchange ceremony" is a great idea that allows the entire family to expericence a couples wedding without detracting from the importance of the temple sealing itself. The ring ceremony has always been treated separate from the temple sealing. Usually LDS couples will stand to the side of the alter after the sealing and exchange rings after the sealing ordinance is complete. Therefore, there is no problem doing the ring ceremony later outside the temple. Again, the ring ceremony shouldn't be extravagant and shouldn't be an attempt to outdo the temple sealing.

Q. Okay, so the LDS want to protect what they think is the superior marriage ceremony by discouraging civil unions before or after the temple sealing. But why punish those who decide to do a civil ceremony anyways? Why do they have to wait a year? That seems harsh.

A. Remember that the temple and temple marriage is about the process of repentance and sanctification. LDS couples know that God and His living prophet has commanded them to get married in the temple and to not do a faux marriage ceremony. Therefore, if a couple decides to knowingly go against the wishes of God and His Church, then they will need to repent of a very repentable sin before they are permitted back to the temple. Therefore, there is a 1-year wait. You don't have to be perfect to enter the temple, but when there are commandments that can be kept or repented of according to 1 Cor 5:11, then they should be kept or repented of with Christ' help.

Q: The LDS policy prohibiting and punishing civil unions before the temple sealing is just another instrument of control and abuse.

This question reveals the real issue here. Many approach this issue from the point of view and paradigm that the LDS Temple is not God's House, and that the LDS prophet is not God's prophet, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not Christ's church on the Earth. Therefore, the policies of the LDS church seem to be just a bunch of oppressive rules a bunch of cranky old men thought up one late night to exercise control and unrighteous dominion over the people of the church. From the LDS perspective, we wish no one was inconvenienced, hurt or offended; especially our families. However, we believe and each have personal spiritual witnesses by the Holy Ghost that our temples, church, prophets, and eternal marriage and policies are of Jesus Christ. So, we are constrained by our love of Jesus Christ to follow God when sometime all we can say when asked why we do certain things is "I know not, save the Lord commanded us."

It is also interesting that anti-theists and atheists number one rejection of God is that the idea of the existence of God for them is oppressive. They don't like the idea of being accountable to anyone. And they use the same argument that the belief in God allows man to contrive false religion which only serves to oppress, repress, abuse, manipulate, exploit and control others.

Also, the issue LDS allowing civil unions is akin to supporters of traditional marriage not wanting gay and lesbian couples who have civil unions to call themselves married. The goal of proponents of traditional marriage is not to be mean, or offend others, but to protect the definition, essence, and institution of what is traditional marriage. Civil Unions grant same-sex couples all the rights they expect and deserve. I support civil unions. However, after all this some are not satisfied and are still pushing to encroach on the traditional definition of marriage. One is left to wonder if it is really equality they seek or to destroy traditional marriage. The same thing applies to this issue of sham weddings vs. ring ceremonies.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Eternal Life and Exaltation Q & A

Q: I've heard many Mormons say they will become gods or that they will bear children in the Celestial Kingdom. Is this taught in the Bible?

A: I understand the Bible and the Early Church Fathers to teach than man, through Christ, can become more than an angel and be glorified together with Jesus Christ who according to Heb 1 was made "higher than the angels" and "given a more excellent name than they." Therefore you may see LDS writings and ECF writings say that through Christ men can become gods and children of God. "God became man so men could become gods." This does not mean that we take God the Father's place. There is a big difference in being "called gods" and being the One True God.

What LDS mean by our hope for Eternal Life and Exaltation is that God will empower those who receive this gift with the power to participate with Him in His work of creation and eternal parenting. If you think about it, the Bible says that to have Eternal Life is to know God. Well, i can not imagine really coming to know Our Father in Heaven until I have been blessed to participate in the kind of work that He does. I think that is why God calls us to be parents and to be missionaries here on Earth. By participating in His work, we come to know Him better.

But more on Eternal Parenting. You used the words "bare children." There is much more to being a parent than gestation. If fact, you can be a parent without gestating a child at all. That is called adoption. I really am not sure if any type of physical mechanism would be involved, especially since LDS believe intelligence and spirit always existed and that we also believe in a physical resurrection. Therefore, I am not sure how a physical being would "gestate" and "bare" a spirit. But, if something like that were required, it would most definitely be painless and not cause stretch marks.

Don't you consider it arrogant (Proverbs 11:2) to believe that only "temple Mormons" are headed for godhood. Isn't this the same sin as Satan? Wanting to be God (Isa 14:13-15)?

A. I know we are nothing without Christ, but please tell me how the Evangelical doctrine that mankind is a created being no different than a "dung beetle" is any different than the Darwinist/Evolutionist doctrine that man evolved from "pond scum"? Are we just fish swimming around in a fancy fish bowl? What are we to God? Are we pets or are we children?

Lucifer's sin was in His desire to take God's place and thinking He knew better than God. It is not at all the desire of any LDS believer to take God place but to believe in every promise and receive every gift that God the Father desires to give to His children.

Q. We are God's crowing creation - made by Christ Jesus, Our Lord, as the object of God's love. He came to save us by His Blood, laying down His own life, for those whom He had created. Praise God! It's very sad that Mormons cannot understand that.

John 1:12-13 But as many as received him,
to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

A: So, we are children and not pets. What makes a child different than a pet? If children, than what kind of work may God give us to do in heaven do you think? Are you going to just sing in the choir (I enjoy singing in the choir BTW)?

Q: It seems to me that Mormons believe they will be the children and the gentiles (like me) will become the pets in a lower kingdom or "ministering angels" to the exalted ones.

God in the Bible made the distinction between saved beings as either "ministering angels" and "children of the bondwoman" or "heirs of God" and "children of the promise" in Heb 1, and Gal 4. It is God in the Bible who speaks of the wise and unwise virgins, the sheep and the goats, the lukewarmers, and the children of the bondwoman vs. children of the promise. It is entirely up to you if you are going to be like Hagar's son Ishmael and be a child of the bondwoman, or will you receive the greater gift/glory/kingdom/seat/crown that God is offering you if you but receive it?

Also, I would like to compare and contrast the fairness of LDS belief with regard to the salvation of those of other faiths with the commonly held Evangelicals belief that LDS will "burn in Hell" and suffer the "blackness of darkness forever" for believing in, what some consider, a false Christ and a false gospel. And I should also remind you that LDS will even go out of their way to offer you an LDS baptism and temple ordinances after you have died. How's that for fair?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Lucifer the Brother of Jesus?

During Mitt Romney's 2008 candidacy for President, Mike Huckabee took a jab at Romney's LDS faith by asking the loaded question in a New York Times interview, "Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?" This question and the tone and context in which it is asked has been a popular attack on the LDS faith by Evangelical Christians.

1. The question is asked in an attempt to elicit a very negative "shock and awe" emotional response in those naive of true LDS doctrine by twisting a beautiful and simple doctrine into something sorted and evil.

2. The question and it's tone and context attempt to convey that LDS believe that the power of Satan is equal and opposite to that of Jesus Christ.

4. The question purposefully attempts to convey that LDS believe that Satan is the child of God in the same way Jesus Christ is the only begotten of the Father.

5. Those that ask this question in this context and tone are trying to convey that LDS diminish the Divinity, Godhood, glory, and power of Jesus Christ while at the same time elevating Lucifer.

What do the LDS really believe:

6. Satan and Satan's power is not equal and opposite to Jesus Christ. Lucifer before becoming Satan, was an archangel about the same statue as Michael and Gabriel. Notice that the Bible says that Michael fought against the dragon in Revelation and not Jesus Christ. If Christ were fighting alone, it wouldn't be a fight for Satan has zero power against God.

7. Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of the Father. Jesus Christ is the only Being that has this literal and direct relationship to the Father.

8. Jesus Christ is God and a member of the Godhead.

9. The origin of the Lucifer and Christ are brothers is a corruption of the LDS belief that all angelic beings and humans are spiritual offspring/creations of the Father. Jesus Christ in addition to being the Only Begotten Son of the Father according to the Flesh is also spiritually begotten of the Father and is called by the Bible the Firstborn of the Father.

10. Therefore, because of our common kinship as children of the Same Heavenly Father, all mankind can be considered spiritual brothers and sisters even if we do not think the same or share the same religious beliefs. In other words, "you don't have to be Christian for me to call you my brother."

Acts 17: 28-29 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.

Heb. 12: 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

Eph 3:14-15 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

Heb. 2: 11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,

Ps. 82: 6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.

Col. 1: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

Rom. 8: 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate dto be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

11. Yes, LDS believe that Jesus Christ and Lucifer and both spiritually begotten of God the Father. God spiritually beget Lucifer, mankind, and Jesus Christ who is referred to by the Bible as the "First Born." That said, Lucifer does not share the same power or unique relationship with the Father as the only Begotten Son in the flesh.

12. I think the dilemma is some Christians are taught to believe that only Christ is begotten while all other spiritual beings are made no different than plants and animals or "dung beetles" (as an Evangelical friend of mine put it). How is the Evangelical doctrine that all human kind in relation to God are created beings the same as "dung beetles" any better that the Evolutionist belief that man are evolved from "pond scum"?

13. The purpose, beauty and power of the underlying doctrine behind the question is meant not to diminish God, or elevate Lucifer, but to elevate all mankind as spiritually begotten children of our Heavenly Father.

14. Finally, the Bible teaches that anyone who is lead by the Spirit of God is considered a son or daughter of God. Because Satan no longer follows the Spirit of God, Satan and Jesus Christ are no longer brethren in this sense.

Polygamy in Scripture

Speaking to friends about the LDS faith, it is no surprise that the issue of polygamy comes up at times. While only a minority of LDS membership were ever even called to practice polygamy, the early historical practice of polygamy is an issue all LDS wrestle with. The following is a few thoughts I had on the subject after the topic was brought up in conversation recently.

1. LDS believe in and covenant to observe strict and absolute chastity/abstainance before marriage and complete fidelity within marriage.
2. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden demonstrate an ideal; one man and one woman.
3. The Nephites in the Book of Mormon were commanded that they should observe marriage as one man and one woman.
4. In the New Testament, Bishops and Deacons were to be the man of one wife. Elders could possibly be permitted more.
5. According to the Doctrine and Covenants, mankind in general are not called to practice polygamy. Polygamy was to be permitted by a calling (assignment) only.
6. Adultery is not about just having relations with more than one woman. Adultery is about having relations for purposes other than unifying a marriage relationship or having offspring and taking full and complete responsibility for your spouse and for those offspring.
7. The Bible does permit the practice of polygamy under specific circumstances.
8. Abraham and Jacob practiced polygamy which came with its own set of unique challenges.
9. Early in LDS history, a minority of LDS were called to practice polygamy. For those who were called or assigned, their acceptance of that calling or assignment was critical to their sanctification and eventual exaltation. Today, we are called to practice traditional covenant marriage and our exaltation is dependent upon accepting the calling into traditional covenant marriage.
10. Most of the women sealed to Joseph Smith likely were only "spiritual wives" and the marriage was not consummated. meaning a person participated in a simple ceremony sealing themselves as part of an eternal family. This would cover women who were married to other men and younger women. We know of no children by Joseph Smith by other women other than by Emma. So far, even hearsay cases where a person claimed someone else to be the offspring of Joseph Smith, the DNA evidence does not support the claim. That said, Joseph Smith likely did consummate several polygamist marriages and practiced polygamy "in very deed."
11. Polygamy was a great trial of faith for Joseph Smith and others. I do not expect the issue to be any less a trial of faith for us today.
12. Having spoken with many descendants of Mormon pioneers and polygamist, my wife being one of them, the practice at that time seemed to be a blessing with no ill-effects on future generations. In fact, most descendants of LDS polygamists have warm regard for these faithful forbearers.
13. Polygamy was only justified if commanded by God, for the purpose of raising righteous seed unto the Lord, and for the higher purpose of caring for the fatherless and the widow.
14. God at times has commanded prophets contrary to the 10 commandments for higher purposes and as a trial of faith.

Abraham commanded to offer his son Isaac
Moses called to make a graven image of the brazen serpent
Joshua was commanded to "utterly destroy"
David permitted to have many wives and concubines by Nathan
Hosea commanded to marry a harlot.
Joseph Smith called to practice polygamy

15. There are many scriptures in the Old and New Testament which discuss the past and even future practice of polygamy.

Ex. 21: 10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. (speaking of the first wife).

Deut. 25: 5 If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her. (likely would be a second wife).

Isa. 4: 1 And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.

Ezek. 44: 22 Neither shall they (Priests of Aaron) take for their wives a widow, nor her that is put away: but they shall take maidens of the seed of the house of Israel, or a widow that had a priest before. (likely a second wife).

1 Tim 5: 14-17 I will therefore that the younger women (widows) marry (re-marry), bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some are already turned aside after Satan. If any man or woman that believeth have widows (second wives), let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed. Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour (a double portion from the bishop's storehouse like the birthright son), especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. (Bishop and Deacons should have one wife, but some Elders may have had multiple)

16. There are certain laws that because of their potential for abuse, cannot be fully and generally instituted in a fallen Telestial world. This may include the full institution of the Law of Consecration and its corresponding economic system known as the "United Order" where society lives as the Early Christians with "all things in common." This concept may apply to polygamy and covenant marriage.
Historically, an LDS couple who were called to practice polygamy had to be both equally consenting to it. There are some critical statements out there about polygamy, but there are also positive reports critics fail to acknowledge like those of my wife's ancestry.18. Divorce rules were more liberal in Biblical polygamy. If your husband wasn't able to provide food, raiment, and duty of marriage that wife was free to leave (Ex 21:11). And since the practice of polygamy creates a shortage of woman and raises the bar for males, there is no shortage of eligible suitors.
19.The purpose of this post is not meant to condone or advocate the practice of polygamy. According to how I read the Bible, Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants, the practice of polygamy should not be generally practiced because of the inherent difficulties and possibility of abuse. However, you can't read the Bible and ignore the fact that in some specific cases and circumstances God condoned the practice. I am really not sure why anyone would even desire to practice polygamy at all. I can't even keep up with one "honey-do" list.
20. Therefore, the question that remains with regard to the historical practice of Polygamy in the LDS church is, did God command it. And that question can only be answered by faith and prayer.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Sanctifying Ordinances and Gifts of Grace

All of us have accepted Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ and our personal Savior. All of us were sinful, fallen and lost and we were "rescued/saved" by the condescension of God who turned us from our path leading straight to death and hell. Thus, all of us are immediately justified and saved from Hell/Gehenna/Blackness of Darkness Forever. God made the first move, and only by His grace and mercy alone were we "rescued" and not by anything we did.

Now that we have been "rescued" and "justified" and "saved", Christ's righteousness is imputed to us, and we can enjoy the "indwelling" of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost, we begin the process of grace-empowered sanctification.

1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: [up unto salvation].

However, in spite of our acceptance of Christ, and in spite of the "indwelling" of the Holy Ghost, we still sin. How could sin still be possible? Isn't Christ and the Holy Ghost more powerful than the flesh? Why the battle?

Galatians 5:17: "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish."

The issue here is not that the Holy Ghost and Christ cannot overcome our flesh, but that sanctification is a process, and as we become more committed to Christ, and our faith in Christ increases, the light and power and grace and influence and indwelling of the Holy Ghost will increase. And by the increased empowerment of the Holy Ghost, we will be increasingly strengthened against sin, purified like silver, etc.

LDS attitude about "works" and ordinances, and covenants is not these produce salvation, but that they are gifts of God which refocus and orrient our lives better towards Christ. The problem is that man forgets, so LDS consider proper daily prayer, scripture study, partaking of the Lords Supper, baptism, and the temple a great way to remember and refocus our lives on Jesus Christ.

Therefore, LDS "works" are not about saving ourselves. And although some call them "saving ordinances." These works are really "sanctifying gifts of grace" that we are invited to receive. And by these "sanctifying gifts of grace" we are promised and hope we can better remember, refocus, and re-orient our lives toward Christ, and receive by grace a more powerful "indwelling/measure" of the Holy Ghost which will empower greater good works, sin protection, and sanctification.

Moro 10:30 And again I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift,

What is the importance to bother with the process of sanctification? LDS believe that the better we progress in the process of sanctification here in this life, and the greater degree of the Holy Ghost/light/grace we accept/receive, the better gift/crown/kingdom/glory/seat we will be given in Heaven.

(1 Thessalonians 5:23) (1 Peter 1:15) (1 Thessalonians 4:3,7) (2 Corinthians 7:1) (2 Timothy 2:20) (Matthew 5:48) (Romans 6:19-22) (2 Thessalonians 2:13) (1 Corinthians 6:11) (2 Corinthians 3:18) (1 Peter 1:2) (Romans 8:13) (Ephesians 5:25) (1 Peter 1:22)

Monday, November 02, 2009

Legalism vs. Antinomianism

Antinomianism: The doctrine or belief that the Gospel frees Christians from required obedience to any law, whether scriptural, civil, or moral, and that salvation is attained solely through faith and the gift of divine grace.

Legalism: strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law or prescription, esp. to the letter rather than the spirit. The doctrine that salvation is gained through good works. The judging of conduct in terms of adherence to precise laws.

Some of our friends of other faiths have claimed on many occasions that LDS theology is purely legalistic. However, if you look at the definition of legalism vs. antinomianism, its opposite, I think it is clear that LDS theology is a balance of grace and works in the same way Christ, Paul, and the other Apostles taught principles of righteousness that stressed both grace and good works.

Rom. 6: 1What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

2 Cor. 9: 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

James 2: 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

1 Jn. 2: 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

Rom 2: 6-10 [God] will render to every man according to his deeds:To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons

Eph 2: 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Matt. 12: 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

Luke 6: 46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

Matt. 7: 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Rev. 20: 12-13 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

LDS theology finds balance and harmony between grace and works by understanding that what Paul was saying about being "saved" by grace and not works was the initial "rescue" which turned us from our sinful ways. No one has ever been able to take even one step towards God alone. All of us have sinned and have turned completely away from God and Christ. Therefore, if it wasn't for God's condescension and mercy to reach down and "rescue" us from death and sin, all of us without exception would be doomed to suffer "the blackness of darkness forever."

However, God has reached down to knock on each of our doors, and if we open up that door to Christ, and repent, and return towards God, we are then justified. Justification is a legal term that means that even though we are guilty of sin, we are given a judgment of acquittal or "not proven." Our final judgment and guilty verdict is then postponed (acquittal is not covered by "double jeopardy"). In the meantime, Christ's righteousness is imputed to us. Accordingly, with Christ's righteousness imputed to us, we can enjoy the indwelling of the Holy Ghost and can then begin the process of sanctification in which we are empowered by the Holy Ghost to repent, and receive sanctifying ordinances and covenants. We are then promised that these covenants and ordinances will further empower our repentance such that we will eventually lose all desire for sin and become blessed with the desire for continual righteousness.

This is how the atonement of Christ is not just grace that overlooks and sweeps our sins under the rug, but also power that will empower us to forsake sin, purify us like silver, and purge the desire for sin from our very being. In this way, Christ not only initially "rescues" us in our sins, but eventually will "save" us from our sins. Therefore, on the theological spectrum we may be more legalistic, but I think LDS doctrine finds the perfect balance on the principles of grace and works in accordance with the Bible.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Arguments for Eternal Marriage

1. Adam and Eve given to each other in perfection in the presence of the the Father. This was on Earth, but Earth will become a part of Heaven.
2. Explanation that Jews will be as the angels and not married nor given in marriage doesn't apply to Christians who will be made "higher than the angels" (Heb 1, Gal 4).
3. Told to love our spouse as Christ loves the church, and tthe love of Christ does not end in death. (Eph. 5: 25-27)
4. Christ resurrection ended the sting and victory of death (1 Cor 15:55).
5. In heaven we will know as we are known, so why would the love for our spouse not be magnified instead of just diluted. If you love your spouse, you will want to be with them, and if that be the case, you would in effect be common law married anyways.

1 Cor. 13: 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

6. Paul's explanation that woman are free to remarry and its not adultery (1 Cor. 7: 39, Rom. 7: 2-3) suggests they had eternal marriage and felt committed still to their eternal spouse even after death. Ezek 44:22 proves the Jews had no problem with remarriage after death. Even priests could remarry the widows of other priests. So, Paul bringing the issue of remarriage up, doesn't make sense unless the circumstance of the Christian marriage was different than that of the Jews.

Ezekiel 44:22 They must not marry widows or divorced women; they may marry only virgins of Israelite descent or widows of priests.

7. Paul says that man is not without the woman neither women without the man in the Lord.

1 Cor 11:11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.

8.The keys given to Peter say "what is bound on Earth shall be bound in heaven" (Matt 16:19).
9. The Bible says "What God hath joined, let no man put asunder" (Matt 19).
10. If this doctrine were clearly set forth in the Bible, there would be no need for the Restoration.