Study. Learn. Ask.

In the Book of Mormon, a group of people known as the Jaredites make a journey from the Holy Land to the New World, the Americas. They build barges as the Lord instructs them, boats that are shut tight, like two dishes. There’s no light in these barges, however, and they don’t want to travel across the ocean in darkness.

So a man, referred to as the brother of Jared, calls upon the Lord to ask Him what should be done. The Lord tells the brother of Jared that they can’t have windows, ’cause they would be just break from the force of the waves. They also couldn’t take fire, ’cause… well… that just wouldn’t be possible… or smart. So what did the Lord tell him to do?

…ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come. Therefore what will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea? (Ether 2:25)

The Lord simply says, “What do you think should be done?”

Many times in life the Lord answers our prayers in such a manner. He certainly has in my life. He wants us to learn things for ourselves. That’s why we have the scriptures, the Bible and the Book of Mormon, so we can read for ourselves and learn. We have been blessed with free will. We can choose how to live our lives, and if the Lord needs to tell us how to live out every minute, we are not using the intelligence and the free will He gave to us.

We must always come to Him in prayer and, for lack of a better way to put it, a second opinion. But first we need to think for ourselves, study God’s word, and then ask Him if what we’ve decided is in accordance to His will. If we do this, we will gain a much higher appreciation for the scriptures and the abilities the Lord has blessed us with.

Oh, and if you’re curious about what the brother of Jared did to have light in the barges, just click the link above and read the next chapter. 🙂

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The Power Is In Them

I’ve talked about agency in some of my past posts. It’s an important topic because our free will is one of the greatest gifts God has given us. So great, in fact, that He allows some of the most horrendous things imaginable to take place because He respects the freedom He has granted to His children. It is also the only thing of ourselves we can offer God. Everything in this world belongs to Him. Anything we give Him, he already has. Our time, however, is something we can give him. Of our own free will, we can choose to offer our time and talents to the Lord.

This time and talents isn’t just for Sunday, nor do they only pertain to the ten commandments and such. God gave us agency so we could think and act for ourselves. That’s why we’re here, to choose to come unto Christ. Through modern revelation, the Lord has instructed,

For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.

Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; (Doctrine and Covenants 5:26-27)

Here, the Lord basically says that anyone who has to be told to do everything is a lazy disciple, and that we should always be seeking to do good, not just when we’re told to.  It makes sense. Surely the Lord wants us to think for ourselves. After all, the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about creating a mighty change of heart within us. It’s about making us into good people, not just people that do good things. From God’s commandments, we enhance the light of Christ within each us and develop our ability to perceive and act upon goodness.

Continuing in verse 28,

For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

The power in us is the light of Christ. God has given us the ability to know good from evil and choose between the two. In this way, when we come unto Him, it is because we desire it, not because we were forced to it.

Our God given agency is so important because it is the only way to truly come unto Christ and learn to be better people. So choose today to do something good. We have already been given the power. Let’s use it.

Articles of Faith II: Agency

The second statement of belief Joseph Smith wrote to John Wentworth is as follows,

We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.

This deals with the idea of original sin, something that Latter-day Saints do not believe in. Mankind is born innocent, and later learns how to sin and develop corrupt behavior. Through the atonement of Jesus Christ, children who die before they are of age are saved. They have no sin, and therefore they are alive in Christ.

The Savior taught,

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 19:24)

Every man and woman will be held accountable for their own actions. The choice that Adam and Eve made is not upon our heads. (For more info on the Fall of Adam and Eve, check out my blog post here.)

We are agents unto ourselves. Our free agency is the greatest gift from God that we have right now. The Book of Mormon teaches,

Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves—to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life. (2 Nephi 10:23)

Whether we choose good or evil, it is our choice and only our choice. No one can or will make it for us.

Agents Unto Ourselves

My mind is kind of drawing a blank here. I can’t really think of anything, but this scripture just popped into my head as I was trying to come up with something. It’s one of my favorites.

Doctrine and Covenants Section 58 verses 26 through 29

For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.

Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.

The commandments of God are necessary, but we should always be striving to do good whether we are commanded to or not. God has given us our free agency and the ability to discern between good and evil. We should not have to be commanded to do good. Instead, we should seek to do good by our own choices and by the abilities that our Heavenly Father has bestowed upon us. Let us all choose to bring righteousness into the world.