Finding Hope

For many in our modern world, the word hope comes with a hint of uncertainty, hoping for something, that we may already believe is unlikely to happen. However, in the Gospel of Jesus Christ hope is described as “…firm hope…” (Alma 34:41) and a “…lively hope…” (1 Peter 1:3). Hope is unwavering and sure.

Hope comes through faith, for “…faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

The Prophet Moroni taught “… whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.” (Ether 12:4)

Hope comes to us by living a life of faith in God.

One can hope for a better world, a better life, peace from a disaster or joy in times of sorrow. However, the first step in finding this peace and joy is by having faith in Jesus Christ. We must rely completely on Him, trusting in His infinite power, intelligence and love.

Following Him, means: Believing and following His teachings, which also means keeping His commandments. Believing that even though we do not understand all things, He does. For “Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5).

As a follower of Jesus Christ, we become one of His disciples, it is no coincidence that disciple is so similar to the word discipline. Following anything, requires discipline.

Discipline by definition is “control gained by enforcing obedience…” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Obedience requires self-control, it requires dedication and a lot of work. The scriptures teach us that “… faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. (James 2:17-18)

Work requires Action.

Our Belief and Faith can be expressed through our Actions – by the way in which we live.

The Savior promised that “If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.” (Moroni 7:33) Living our lives by faith will motivate us to follow Jesus Christ and His teachings. In fact, Jesus Himself taught that; “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do…” (John 14:12).

As a Disciple of Jesus Christ, not only are we to follow His example, but He encourages us to strive to do even more! Faith in Jesus Christ and in His Gospel helps us to receive physical, spiritual, mental and emotional healing through His Atonement.

He knew that life would not always be easy. He taught us that “…in the world ye shall have tribulation:  but be of good cheer; for I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

We too can overcome the world.

Speaking to the Romans, the Apostle Paul taught;

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; … because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly… God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” (Romans 5:1-11)

The Apostle Paul knew that we should glory in the difficult times, for these challenges work our patience and give us experience. This experience gives us strength and through Jesus Christ and His Atonement or sacrifice, we too can overcome the world.

Remember, Hope comes through Faith. 

Hope can sustain us through everyday challenges.

Hope can provide us with joy in this life, for “Happy is [them]… whose hope is in the Lord his God” (Psalm 146: 5).

We must strengthen our faith through our discipleship, and “…press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Chris, and endure to the end, behold… Ye shall have eternal life.” (2 Nephi 31:20)

Wild flower growing out of concrete cracked | Geri Gibbons

1 Peter 1

1 Peter 1: Trial of Faith Precedes Salvation

                Peter writes to the gentiles that are scattered throughout the world and explains to them; “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious that of gold….though it be tried with fire… be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:7) Here we learn that the trial of our faith, even though it be difficult is what we will be judged on in the last days. Gold, silver, jewels… any worldly possession will not help us gain salvation. We must EARN our own salvation through the trial of our faith. Yes, it is true that Jesus Christ died for our sins and therefore granted our Salvation. However, we must remember that Jesus Christ gave us the ABILITY to gain Salvation, but never did we instantly gain Salvation for nothing, and this is exactly what Peter is saying.

Peter goes on to explain, that since the dawn of time Prophets have “…enquired and searched diligently…” (1 Peter 1:10) in order to obtain the necessary information regarding our Salvation, for this purpose having prophets is important. Peter explains that we need to be “…obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts of your ignorance… Be ye holy; for I am [God] holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work.” (1 Peter 14;16-17) Peter urges us to be obedient, and put our former lusts and desires in the past. As God is Holy, we being His children should also be holy. Why? Because ultimately God will judge us on our work.

Our Salvation was gained through the “…precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world…” (1 Peter 1:19-20) Peter invites us to be “…born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible…” (1 Peter 1:23) In other words, once we decide to follow Christ, we must do as He would do. We must work diligently daily, doing good works as He would also do.

1 Peter 2

1 Peter 2: Converts want to Learn

                Peter writes to the new converts of the church and tells them that like; “…newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:” (1 Peter 2:2) He emphasizes that it is the job of all members to nourish and strengthen those new converts so that they may grow with the word.

Peter urges us, including the converts to “…abstain from fleshy lusts… that… by your good works… shall… glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:11-12) Jesus Christ died for our sins, and through His Atonement, we have been given the ability to be saved through His grace. However, this grace only works if we also do our best to stay clean and avoid the temptations of this world. By our good works, we shall be saved through the Grace of God.

Peter goes on to explain for new converts or members alike that we should “Submit ourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake…” (1 Peter 2:13) This is very interesting, because the Lord is telling us to follow all of man’s laws, if they be unrighteous, then those who are making the laws will be held accountable. However, we should follow the laws of the land, for it is a commandment of God. Peter explains that if we do well to follow the commandments of God, then we “…may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” (1 Peter 2:15)

                Finally Peter urges us to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, that we might overcome the world.

James 2

James 2: Salvation Gained by Keeping the WHOLE Law

James explains that those who treat the rich man better than the poor man; “…have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.” (James 2:1) James explains that we are not in a position to judge others for God created all men equal and does not view them in measure of their worldly possessions but rather their wealth of faith. James urges people to treat the rich and poor equally; “If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:” (James 1:8)

James goes on to explain that we must follow all the laws of God, for; “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; whatdoth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” (James 2:14-18)

Essentially James explains that we need to not only have faith and preach good, but also do good. If we are to believe that God exists, we should understand His power, for even the devils; “…also believe, and tremble.” (James 1:19) No one is perfect, but if we work hard to do what we preach we will be filled with faith, justified by good works.

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 1:26)

Romans 4

Romans 4: Faith, Works and Grace

Paul explains that Abraham was not justified by works, but declared righteous through his faith. Grace is a free gift from God, whereas the works and obedience to the Law, prove our worthiness to God. We know that Abraham was counted righteous before he was circumcised; meaning that circumcision is a sign of righteousness to the Law, but not the cause of that righteousness. God’s promise to Abraham was based on the principle of faith, and not by law or works.

If we are born into this world, we are immediately saved from our sins and the spiritual death. Jesus Christ opened the door to Salvation, is alone we could not do on our own. Jesus Christ had to take upon our sins so that we could return to live with God, this is our gift. However, we can chose to accept or reject that gift. How do we do that? If we accept the gift, then we must believe on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If we do not want to accept the gift, then we do not believe on Jesus Christ. It is very simple; we can chose to accept Jesus Christ or not. However, if we decide to accept Jesus Christ we must understand what accepting Him means.

What does Believing on Jesus Christ mean?

                If we decide to accept Jesus Christ into our lives, then we also accept His teachings, commandments and Laws. Therefore, if we chose to not follow the commandments of God, then we are not truly accepting Him into our lives. For this very purpose, Grace comes from our individual works and obedience to the Law. How can this be, if Jesus Christ made Salvation a FREE gift? Remember, Jesus Christ opened the door (something we couldn’t do alone), this was His gift to us. Fortunately for us, we have something called Agency. With this Agency we can choose good or evil, right or wrong. In order to take part in this FREE gift, we must accept it. By accepting the gift, we agree to accept Jesus Christ into our lives and into our hearts. This means that we ALSO accept to be a disciple of Christ. It is no coincidence that Disciple is a root word of Discipline. If we chose to accept Christ into our lives, we must be disciplined to follow His commandments and His law. This is where Faith and Works come into play, in order to obtain Salvation.

Grace and law are the principles, and faith and works are the means by which we pursue those principles for our relationship with God. In order to obtain Salvation we must accept the Grace of God, through His Son Jesus Christ and then work to fulfill righteousness in our lives.

Romans 3

Romans 3: Man is Judged by Faith in Jesus Christ

 

“What advantage then hath the Jew? Or what profit is there of circumcision?” (Romans 3:1) Paul addresses the Romans and states that regardless of being a Jew or a Gentile, ALL are saved through the grace of Jesus Christ. He asks: what does it profit a man to have only the LAW, and not the FAITH? Man’s unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God. The law cannot save us from our sin and the penalty that accompanies it. Paul points out that “…all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” (Romans 3:23-25)

Sinners (everyone) are justified freely by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Because Jesus Christ Atoned for the Sins of ALL, we can be saved. However, we must understand what being Saved means.

What is Salvation?

Because of the Fall of Adam and Eve, everyone will experience a temporal death. However, through grace, which was made possible by the Atoning Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, everyone will be resurrected and receive immortality. Resurrection alone does not qualify us for eternal life in the presence of God. Remember, Paul said; “…all have sinned…” (Romans 3:23), these sins make us unclean and unfit to dwell in God’s presence. For this reason, we are saved through Grace, ONLY after all we can do. After all, Jesus Christ died for us, the very least we can do is follow His law. Essentially, Jesus Christ unlocked and opened the door to Eternal Life, we however must make the choice to enter through that door. This is where Grace is a FREE gift from God, but Eternal Life and Salvation require our part. What is it that we must do? We must live by God’s law and we must follow in the steps of Jesus.

Paul ends this chapter by asking; “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the law.” (Romans 3:31) What does he mean? He means that we should throughout either the Law of Faith, but have both. Faith without works is dead! The Book of Mormon helps us to understand a little more about grace; “…we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God, for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (Book of Mormon; 2 Nephi 25:23) 

Romans 2

Romans 2: Judged by our Works

                “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.” (Romans 2:1)

Essentially we learn that those who judge others are themselves condemned. Why? Because those who judge others are usually just as guilty of another sin, if not the exact same sin! God demands humble repentance before Him. Those who judge others will not escape their own punishment from God. If we follow the commandments of God, we will not face the tribulation and anguish of God’s judgment.

“For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.” (Romans 1:12) This means that those who did not have God’s commandments and through ignorance sinned, they will not be held accountable. However, those who sinned and knew the commandments of God will be judged according to their knowledge of those things. However, “…their conscience also bearing witness…” (Romans 1:15); essentially God gave us all the Holy Ghost to be able to tell right from wrong… if our conscience told us it was bad and we did it anyways, God will use that in His judgment against us. The Gentiles may by nature act according to the law, being a law unto themselves. Jews boast of the law, but the law condemns them. Circumcision of the heart and of the Spirit is more important than circumcision in the flesh. This means that Faith, without works is dead. If we only profess to Love Jesus Christ, but do not follow His commandments, then we will be judged by our works as well as our faith.

Ezekiel 13-14

Ezekiel 13-14

Scripture Thought (What I Learned):

People will always be led away by a false preacher. I personally had the opportunity to visit a number of religious organizations last year, I felt that I needed to see and participate in services that were different from my own. I found that a number of congregations had good hearted people that were seeking the Lord. However I was disgusted to find many churches, whose so called “Pastor” would lead his people astray. He spoke nonsense, but the scriptures were true! In the hallway of the church, before the services… the pastor would setup a table of bread, with a sign that read “take what you need”. Innocent enough, to make anyone believe that it was for a good cause. But the people that came, were not only given free bread… but a constant reassurance that they were saved, just on the act of believing. How deceiving! How wrong! People, will always be led astray!

Chapter 13: False Prophets

The word of the Lord comes to Ezekiel and the Lord tells Ezekiel to go unto the people and say; “Thus saith the Lord God; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!” (Ezekiel 13:3)

God is not happy with the false prophets that have risen only to entrap the souls of those who listen to them. God mentions that he will break down the walls of their intuitions (false churches) because their walls were built with un-tempered mortar (or in other words poorly built). God speaks to the false prophets “…ye pollute me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread… by your lying” (Ezekiel 13:19) and “…with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad… and strengthed the hands of the wicked… by promising him life.” (Ezekiel 13:22)

                God is speaking directly to these false prophets, who literally bring people to their church by offering free bread and telling them that they can be saved. Salvation is a FREE gift of God, because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This is absolutely TRUE! However, what many people fail to understand is that it DOES NOT guarantee our return to God. Jesus Christ died for our sins, to give us the OPPORTUNITY to be SAVED! For the Bible makes it clear; “… though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? … Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead…” (James 2:14, 17)

No one can just say, “I accept Jesus in my heart” and be done. To accept Jesus Christ, we accept the challenge of becoming like him, to follow him.  As a disciple, who is disciplined in following the commandments.

Chapter 14: The Lord will not answer to the evil-doers

“…they are all estranged from me through their idols.” (Ezekiel 14:5)

God speaks to Ezekiel and tells him that the people have forsaken him and have pursued after false gods and have listened to false prophets that have led them astray. Ezekiel cries repentance!