Monday, March 14, 2011

Eternal Life is Earned, Not Deserved

Hello my family,

Ouch, this week was tough.  There are only 2 things in this country that can stop the people from playing soccer: rain and politics.  This week we had a both.  The temperature is FINALLY starting to go down after an incredibly hot and humid summer season.  We got up to about 112 degrees and like...150% humidity.  It´s alright though, I was much more used to it this year, so I dealt with it much better.  We had some rain here last week, and yesterday we had local elections.  NOBODY was home, and those that were didn´t want to hear us that day.  We visited the leaders and the less-active members.  Turned out pretty well.  We made some plans with the second councelor in the branch presidency.  He is a 24-year-old return missionary and a really smart guy.  Kind of a class-clown, but he knows how to run a branch really well.  We´ll see what happens next week.

This week, I´ll finish on the Atonement.  I´ll start now so I have time.

Like I said, there are 2 things that prevent us from returning to the presence of God.  One is death.  The other is sin.  We cannot conquer the effects of these things on our own, and they are 2 things that will happen to everybody because we are descendents of Adam and Eve.  Jesus Christ is the only person that could conquer these things for us.  Here´s how he did it.

Three days after His death, Jesus Christ was resurrected.  By some means that I don´t fully understand, he broke the bands of death and had the power given to him from His Father to take up His life again.  Because of His resurrection, all of us will participate in the same blessing.  Whether you´re good or evil, old or young, male or female, free or slave, it matters not.  It is the free gift that comes to all of us because of the pure love of our Father.  It is the consolation price for playing the game.  Because Jesus Christ was resurrected, all of us will be resurrected too.  Our spirit and our body - the same spirit and body that we have now, not new ones - will be reunited eternally, never to be separated again.  However, after the resurrection, our bodies will be perfect and glorified, like God´s (remember that that was one purpose of the plan of salvation - obtain perfect bodies like our Father).  For example, if somebody is born without an arm, or without use of a leg, or with any kind of unnatural defect, all that will be gone.  We will be without physical blemish or flaw.  This permits us to enter back into the presence of our God to be judged.  However, in order to be able to live with Him in eternal happiness, we must also be cleansed from sin.

Unlike the victory over death, the cleansing of sin is not free for all.  It comes with conditions.  Christ has promised us that if we have faith, repent of our sins, are baptized in His name by immersion and by somebody who holds His authority, receive the Holy Ghost, and keep our covenants (or promises) until the end of our lives, with His power he will forgive our sins.  It requires faith and action.  It requires belief and obedience - but aren´t they really the same thing?

Some people wonder "If God really loves us, how can He ever deny somebody eternal life?  Why can´t He just forgive us if we were good people and then we could all live with Him?"  You have to understand something.  The scriptures tell us that God is a just God.  He is a fair God.  There is an eternal law called the law of justice.  Somebody who doesn´t study for the test and doesn´t perform well doesn´t deserve the same grade as somebody who does study and answers correctly.  Eternal life is earned, not deserved.  Immortality (living forever) is a right, but eternal life (living forever with God and your family in eternal happiness) is a privilege reserved for those who keep the commandments.

President Boyd K. Packer - an Apostle of God - once told a parable that always helped me understand.  I´ll paraphrase it:
"Once there was a man who intensely desired to have some specific object.  However, he had to take out a loan to obtain it.  His friends and family warned him that the creditor was viscious and extremely strict, but he wanted what he wanted and he wanted it now.  So he took out the loan, happy to have what he wanted.  Thinking that the day of repayment was far away, he put little importance in working to pay off his debt.

"As is always the case, the day of repayment came quicker than expected.  The man didn´t have the money to pay back his creditor.  The creditor told him that if he did not pay right then, the contract would be put into effect and he would take control of all the man´s posessions and throw him in jail.  He demanded justice.  The man asked that the payment date be extended or that the debt be forgiven.  He asked for mercy.  If the creditor had his way of justice, the man would lose everything and there would be no mercy.  If the man had his way, the creditor would be cheated of what in reality was rightfully his.  One could only get what he wanted at the expense of the other, and mercy and justice could not be satisfied at the same time.  What could be done?

"A third man - a friend of the one in debt - heard about his friend´s plight and came to his house.  He told the creditor that he would pay his friend´s debt so that he wouldn´t have to go to jail, and that the creditor couldn´t complain because he would have his money that was owed him.  He asked his friend if he would accept him as his new creditor, and of course his friend accepted.  The third man said that as his new creditor, he would set the conditions, and though it wouldn´t be easy, it would be possible and he would not have to go to prison.  Thus, the creditor received his justice and the man received his mercy.  What was needed was a third man to be the mediator."

This is the role of Jesus Christ.  He is the mediator to the claim that justice has on us for our sins.  He paid the price when He suffered for us in Gethsemany and on the cross - He fulfilled the demands of justice.  He promises us mercy if we complete with the new conditions that He has set.  If the man in the story did not meet the conditions set by his new creditor friend, he would again be subject to justice and lose his posessions.  But if he met the requirements, he would be safely guarded by the merciful arms offered to him by his friend.  And so it is with us.  If we meet the requirements set by the Lord, He will give us mercy.  We will not be subject to the punishments that we deserve because of our own foolishness and sins.  We too will be protected by the arms of mercy that we deserve, because we did our part.  That is why it is so important to believe in and follow Jesus Christ.  He is our Mediator, our Savior, and our Friend.

Love and miss you all.

-√Člder Moore

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