2 Peter 1

2 Peter 1: Prophecy comes by the Power of the Holy Ghost

                Peter writes a general letter to the members of the Church of Christ, he reminds them of why they were baptized and why they are followers of Jesus Christ. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ, he explains, we; “…are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust… giving all diligence, add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance [abstinence/restraint]; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity…” (2 Peter 1:4-7)

Peter is telling every follower of Jesus Christ that the purpose for following Him is to partake in the divine nature of God Himself. We are His offspring, and by accepting His promise we were sent to earth to prove ourselves and to overcome the lusts of the world to eventually be perfected and return to live with Him. For if we overcome the world we will be given knowledge, faith, patience and the ability to love with the ultimate goal of becoming like unto our Father in Heaven. We are literally partakers in this Great Plan of Salvation! When our trial on this earth is over we will; “…be ministered unto… the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:11) For this purpose, Peter explains that he will not be negligent in stirring up those who have forgotten unto remembrance of their duty in this life. Remember, we are saved only after all we can do. For example, the gift of salvation has been given to everyone, however if we chose to do evil in this world we cannot return to our Heavenly Father. Therefore Salvation requires us to put forth an effort to follow Jesus Christ in all that He would do.

Peter goes on to explain that as followers of Jesus Christ (especially those who heard the voice of God on the holy mount) have a knowledge that; “…no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:20-21) In other words, we can interpret the scriptures as much as we want, but without Holy Men of God, that is, Apostles and Prophets we cannot know the true meaning and interpretation of all things. However, God as He did in old times, still calls AUTHORIZED Apostles and Prophets to serve as His mount piece, even in these modern days.

The message of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that exact message; God Lives! Jesus Christ is our Redeemer, and Savior. Because of the Love that God and His Son have for us, we have been given a mouth piece in these latter days. The Prophecies and Revelations of the Bible exist today, with Revelations that pertain specifically to the changing times.

Hebrews 12

Hebrews 12: God is our Heavenly Father

                Paul writes to the Hebrews and explains that we should; “…lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1) Paul uses ‘weights’ to describe sin, and then tells us to be patient in the race of life. But one must consider how much easier that race could be ran, and finished with less to weigh us down!

Paul urges us to look; “…unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) Paul explains that Jesus is our FAITH, and He put aside His life for US! We should look unto Him during our good times and our bad times, for He truly knows how we feel when we are sad, but also knows how we feel when we are happy. He can be there through the good and the bad, if we are also there with Him through the good and the bad.

Paul likens God our Eternal Father with our earthly fathers; “…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?” (Hebrews 12:9) Paul lays out our divine lineage; we are SONS and DAUGHTERS of God the Father! If we respect and love our earthly fathers, should we not love and respect even more the Father of our Spirit? Paul explains that in life we will go through trials and often times we feel like God is punishing us, either for our sins or to make us stronger; “…no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous… nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness…” (Hebrews 12:11) In other words, being punished (or feeling like we are being punished) in the present is not fun. But God knows all, and He has a plan for us all! Therefore after we are punished we can grow and then receive the fruit righteousness, a heavenly peace.

Paul goes on to explain that in the days of Moses, there were consequences for rebelling against the word of God. Paul tells us that we have “…come unto mount Sion [zion], and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” (Hebrews 12:22-23) Essentially Paul is saying that we will be brought to judgment, God being the Judge of all, but presiding over a group of judges of men who were made perfect.

Philippians 2

Philippians 2: Every Knee Shall Bow, and Every Tongue Shall Confess

                Paul urges the Philippians to be “…likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” (Philippians 2:2) Paul explains that the Saints should not act from selfish ambitions. He urges the members to be like Jesus Christ; “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” (Philippians 2:6)

What does Paul mean when he said that Jesus Christ thought it was not robbery to be equal with God? What does that mean for the followers of Christ? It means that as Jesus Christ wanted to be like His Father, we too want to be like our Father. It is ok to have a desire to become like God, Paul himself said; “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there by gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” (1 Corinthians 8:5-6)

Can we become like God?

                The question arises, can we as children of God, become like Him? OR in other words, is it possible for mankind to become gods? Notice I used a lowercase “g” for “gods”, instead of the uppercase “G” for God the Eternal Father. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes that we are of divine nature and therefore have the potential to be like our Heavenly Father, and the Bible agrees with this doctrine;

From the beginning; “…God said, Let us make man in our own image, after our own likeness…” (Genesis 1:26) Later, after Adam and Eve had partaken of the fruit; “…the Lord God said, behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil…” (Genesis 3:22) This suggested that the purpose for Adam and Eve to have partaken of the fruit and to have knowledge of Good and Evil was part of God’s plan from the beginning, for mankind (His Children) to one day return and live with Him in His Kingdom, and to become like Him. Remember we have divine potential to become LIKE Him, but NOT BECOME Him.

Later we read in the New Testament when Jesus Christ is being accused of blasphemy, they charge Him by saying; “…because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.” (John 10:33) Jesus responds to them saying; “…Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken.” (John 10:34-35) Jesus Christ was referencing an Old Testament Scripture; Psalms 82:6.

We need to understand that having a belief that one day a human can become a “god” is in no way devaluing our relationship with THE God. If we truly are His offspring, it is only natural for us to want to become like our Father. He has shown us the way, and has asked us to follow Him and His Son, Jesus Christ. If we truly believe in Them and have a desire to follow Them, we will also want to become like Them! It is like a father on earth who is an accountant, who has a son, who also grows up to be an accountant. Like father, like son.

Paul goes on to explain the divine nature of our Savior Jesus Christ, and how being obedient to the Father, He was exalted on High; “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things of earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11)

                Paul explains that because of this great sacrifice from Jesus Christ we must do the work and will of God and “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12) This means that through Jesus Christ we can be saved, but we still have our part to accept His gift to us, therefore we must ‘work out’ our own Salvation, and do so; “…without murmurings and disputings:” (Philippians 2:14)

Paul then tells the Philippians that he will soon send Timotheus to them.

Ephesians 1

Ephesians 1: Saints Foreordained/Restoration of the Gospel

                Paul writes a letter to the Ephesians, he starts by explaining that he is an Apostle of the Lord and explains that we are all God’s children, for God “…hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, what we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ… In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins…” (Ephesians 1:4-5, 7) We learn from Paul that we are not only children of God, but that Jesus Christ will adopt us and through His atoning sacrifice in the Garden of Gethsemane and His Crucifixion, we can be forgiven of our sins.

Paul goes on to explain that God will make known “…the mystery of his will…” (Ephesians 1:7) Essentially Paul is telling us that ONE DAY we will have answers to the questions of our soul, like: Where did we come from? Why are we here and where are we going after death? Paul explains that in the ‘dispensation of the fulness of times’ we will come to this knowledge;

“…the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.” (Ephesians 1:10)

What is the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times?

                First, what is a ‘Dispensation’? Dispensations are periods of time in which the gospel of Jesus Christ is administered by Holy Prophets, who are ordained by God. Through these Prophets, God can speak to His children and administer the affairs of His kingdom on Earth. Dispensations begin with the calling of a prophet, by God. Dispensations end, when the people reject the prophets and kill them.

The Dispensation of the Fulness of Times began in 1820, when Joseph Smith had the First Vision. During this time God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ spoke to Joseph Smith and called him to be a prophet. Through Joseph Smith, the Church of Jesus Christ was restored back to the earth. In modern day scripture we read; “It is necessary in the ushering in of the dispensation of the fulness of times, which dispensation is now beginning to usher in, that a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories should take place, and be revealed from the days of Adam even to the present time” (Doctrine and Covenants 128:18).

                So we learn that through Joseph Smith, the Father and the Son ushered in the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times, where all dispensations from Adam to Present are linked together to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Paul ends his letter to the Saints in Ephesus, and prays that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ given them the “…spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; The eyes of your understanding being  enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” (Ephesians 1:17-18) Paul was urging them to open their minds and hearts to being filled with knowledge and enlightenment over the doctrines of Jesus Christ. Today, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asks the same thing, for people to open their hearts and understand that the Church, Jesus Christ personally established when He was on the earth… is now Restored with modern day Prophets and Apostles.

Galatians 4

Galatians 4: Heirs of Christ

                Paul opens by explaining how a servant cannot inherit anything of their lord. However, because of the Abrahamic Covenant we all become adopted under the seed of Abraham. God sent His Son, so that we may be redeemed, for we “…were in bondage under the elements of the world:” (Galatians 4:3) Therefore Paul asks the Galatians; “…how turn ye again to the weak and beggearly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?” (Galatians 4:9) The reason Paul asks this is because he clearly points out that all those adopted under the Abrahamic Covenant are “…no more a servant, but a son… [and] heir of God through Christ.” (Galatians 4:7)

                If we turn away from the worldly things and instead turn to Christ we can be made free from the misery of the world. We learn from Alma, a Book of Mormon Prophet who lived in Ancient America, that “…wickedness never was happiness.” (Alma 41:10; The Book of Mormon) Therefore those who choose to follow God and His commandments will be made free from the bondage of the evil that oppresses the earth.

Paul urges the Galatians to be like him and follow his example, as he follows the example of Christ. Paul then explains how Abraham had two sons, one was born of a bondwoman and the other was born of a freewoman. Ishmael was born of the flesh and unto a bondwoman, which represents the old covenant. Isaac was born of the spirit and unto a freewoman, which represents the new covenant. Those who do not follow the spirit, but rather follow the flesh shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Romans 8

Romans 8: Joint-Heirs with Christ

                Paul explains that those who walk according to the Spirit, rather than according to the flesh are not condemned. Paul points out that even the; “…Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Romans 8:16-17) This means that we are literally Children; sons and daughters of a Heavenly Father. Because we are God’s offspring, we too are heirs and joint heirs with our Brother Jesus Christ. Paul explains that we all suffer, but that the; “…sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18), in other words our suffering now will be nothing compared to our eternal glory and reward.

Glory, Hope and the Holy Ghost

                “…we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” (Romans 8:24-25)

If we know the outcome of something, then we have no need for hope. However, if we don’t know the outcome of something, we must wait. Waiting helps to build patience and through patience we gain a testimony of hope and a growing love for God and our Savior, Jesus Christ. The Spirit [Holy Ghost] is our intercessor, and even during times of uncertainty the Holy Ghost will guide us when we know not what to say or what to pray for.

Wisdom from Paul

                Paul teaches some great words of wisdom;

                “…he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:27) In other words; he who has a clean heart will know the will and love of God.

                “…we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28) Anyone who truly loves God, will find that eventually in God’s timing, everything will work out.

                “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Romans 8:29-30) The Bible does not speak that often on the word “pre-destiny” or “predestination”. But, essentially those who follow the Lord have the opportunity to become like Him. We are predestined to conform to the image of Jesus and those who are predestined are called. God foreknows, predestines, calls, justifies and glorifies

                “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) If God was willing to let His own Son be tortured and killed for the Sins of all mankind… wouldn’t that mean that God would freely give us ALL things? YES.

                “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 35-39)

If God is with us, who can be against us? No one!

Acts 17

Acts 17: The Unkown God

Paul goes to Amphipolis and Apollonia where he comes into Thessalonica and teaches Jews in a synagogue; “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath day reasoned with them out of the scriptures.” (Acts 17:2) Many of the Jews listened and understood the scriptures and were converted, these Jews “…received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11) And many of them believed, however an equal number of them did not believe and caused many to instigate a riot.

Some of those who believe ask Paul; “…May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?” (Acts 17:19) Paul speaks to the men of Athens; “…I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKOWN GOD, Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him I declare unto you.” (Acts 17:22-23)

Paul then explains who God is; God… made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation: That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we life, 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 the man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.  Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Acts 17:24-31)

Paul explains that we are all the offspring of God, meaning we are His children, God created all men equally and the time of ignorance is over… God will no longer overlook worshipping false gods, the time is now to repent and turn to Him. God is not far from us, and Him being our Father we can turn to Him in prayer and receive guidance from Him. In today’s world we may not be worshiping a false god, but we might be worshiping Gold, Silver, Money or Fame.