Hebrews 2

Hebrews 2: The Atonement

                Paul writes to the Hebrews and asks them; “…if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation…” (Hebrews 2:2-3) Essentially Paul asks; if we know that our wickedness comes with punishment, WHY would we NOT accept SALVATION?

Jesus, “…by the grace of God should taste death for every man… to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:9-10) Paul goes on to say; “…I will put my trust in him…” (Hebrews 2:13) and he encourages others to do the same.

Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can ALL be Saved, if we so choose. Jesus Christ was; “…made like unto his brethren, that he might be merciful and faithful… to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour [comfort] them that are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:17-18) Jesus Christ knows our temptations, our fears, our suffering, our deepest desires; he suffered so that He would know how to comfort us in our times of sorrow and rejoice with us in our times of rejoicing!

1 Corinthians 15

1 Corinthians 15: Baptisms for the Dead

                Paul preaches to the Corinthians and tells them that the Gospel he preached to them is the word of God and that Jesus Christ did in fact die for our sins; “…that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures; “(1 Corinthians 15:4) Paul explains that the evidence of Him is all around, for many saw His great works and miracles. Paul explains that all men will be resurrected, Paul explains that if there is no resurrection then Jesus Christ also did not rise on the third day; “…if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ is be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:13-14) Paul goes on to make a very bold statement; “For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised.” (1 Corinthians 15:16)

Essentially we learn that if you believe that Christ rose on the third day, then you must also believe that all men will one day be resurrected. Paul goes on to explain the purpose of Jesus Christ and the Fall/Redemption of Mankind through Him;

“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive… Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him…. Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” (1 Corinthians 15:20-29)

So, Paul is telling us that through the Fall of Adam and Eve, death was brought into the world, but through Jesus Christ we can eventually overcome that death. The Corinthians participated in Baptisms for the Dead and because of this Paul was essentially asking them; ‘if you don’t believe in resurrection, why are you participating in the baptisms of the dead?’ – From this we learn that Baptisms for the Dead were performed in ancient times and that it was for the very purpose of those who did not get a baptism in this life. This practice of Vicarious Work is done today in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Paul goes on to explain what members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints already know as the Plan of Salvation. Paul describes the different bodies; “There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory…” (1 Corinthians 15:40-41)

Romans 5

Romans 5: Adam Fell, Christ Atoned

Paul explains the importance of the Role of Jesus Christ;

“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)

We learn that we should be glad that God gives us tribulations, because through these trials we are able to learn patience, gain experience and have our hearts filled with Christ’s love through the Holy Ghost. We learn that Christ died for everyone, including the sinners. Through HIS Atonement and Sacrifice we have the opportunity to return to live with our Heavenly Father. Grace is a free gift and Salvation is ours if we desire.

Paul explained that “…death reigned from Adam to Moses… after the similitude of Adam’s transgression…” (Romans 5:14). Essentially because Adam and Eve transgressed we were all doomed to a Spiritual death, where we could no longer return to God’s presence. However Jesus Christ made it possible, through His death on the cross and His pleading in the Garden of Gethsemane that we could escape this Spiritual death.

Paul reminds us that we have a choice; “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19) This means that YES Adam and Eve broke a commandment of God, but by them breaking the commandment we were given a Savior to take our sins away from us. Jesus Christ Atoned for our sins, and gave us the free gift of Grace, but we still must choose to accept it. The Book of Mormon helps us to understand this further; “Adam feel that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” (Book of Mormon; 2 Nephi 2:25)

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 1

Romans 1: The Power of the Gospel unto the Salvation of God’s Children

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ and called as an Apostle and being separated unto the Gospel of God; writes to the Romans. Paul testifies of Jesus Christ, being the Son of God and that through the faith on His name [Jesus Christ] the Saints can overcome. Paul explains that he is in debt with not only God, but the Greeks, Barbarians and the Romans themselves. Paul explains that he is “…not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)

Paul explains his desires to come to Rome. He exhorts the Saints in Rome to live their lives by Faith. He reminds them to not boast in their abilities, for their fathers of old; “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” (Romans 1:22) They became fools, by changing the glory of God. They turned the simple truths of God into something more corrupt, like men. Because of this corruption, God sent sufferings to all men who despised His name.

Paul warns of those who change the natural order of the role of men and women (homosexuality). He warns of those who participate in “…all unrighteousness, fornication [Sex outside of Marriage], wickedness, covetousness [eagerness to possess something, not belonging to yourself], maliciousness [the need to see others suffer]… envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity [wishing evil to others]; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents…” (Romans 1:29-30)

John 5

John 5: Salvation of the Dead

                After the feast of the Jews, Jesus left to Jerusalem. While in Jerusalem, Jesus stopped at a ‘sheep market pool’, which was called Bethesda. This pool had many lined up to be healed, but only for a short period after the waters were troubled could anyone be healed. A certain man, who had an infirmity for 38 years couldn’t walk and it made it difficult for him to jump into the water. The man asks for Jesus to help him into the water; however Jesus decides to just heal the man.

Jesus said unto him; “…Rise, take up thy bed and walk.” (John 5:8) and immediately the man was cured and took his bed and ran off. Soon after, a Jew spotted the man carrying his bed and was told him; “…It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.” (John 5:10) The man responded that he was cured by a man, and that man told him to take his bed and walk.

The Jews find out that it was Jesus who had been healing people on the Sabbath day, and begin to persecute Him. But Jesus responds to them; “…My father worketh hitherto, and I work.” (John 5:17) But this only angered the Jews more, because Jesus had said His Father, was God! Jesus tells them; “…The son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” (John 5:19) Jesus goes on to explain that the Son does the will of the Father, but that the “…Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” (John 5:22) Everyone should honor both the Son [Jesus Christ] and the Father [God], for not honoring one, you dishonor the other. For God has given His Son power and authority (see John 5:27).

Jesus teaches about Baptisms for the dead; “…for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” (John 5:28-29) In modern day LDS temples, baptisms for the dead are performed so that those who did not have a baptism by the proper authority in this life can be baptized by proxy. Meaning, someone else is baptized in place of the deceased. Because without baptism, no one can enter into the kingdom of heaven. Therefore it is necessary that someone acting on their behalf is baptized in the flesh so that they can receive the baptism and the saving ordinances that come with it, while still in the Spirit. Later in the New Testament Peter also teaches about this; “…for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” (1 Peter 4:6)

Jesus explains that in the judgment day, He will be the one doing the judging; “…as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (John 5:30)

                Jesus tells the Jews, that they received Moses and he came in the form of Moses. Jesus, being the Son of God comes in the form of the Son, and is rejected. Essentially Jesus is telling them; If you do not believe the Son, you do not believe in God. Moses wrote of Jesus, and rejects those who reject Jesus. Yet the Jews were so fond of Moses, yet not fond of Jesus.

Jesus ends with this wisdom; “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39)

Luke 24

Luke 24: He Lives!

                Early in the morning days after the death of Jesus Christ, some of His followers (including Mary Magdelene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James) came to His sepulchre [tomb] to anoint Him with spices. Upon approaching the tomb, they found the stone, which sealed the tomb was rolled back and when they went in, they did not find the body of Jesus Christ. The followers were confused, but they found two men who were wearing shining garments, who told them; “…Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen…” (Luke 24:5-6) The two men [or angels] reminded the followers that Jesus had told them exactly what would happen; “…The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” (Luke 24:7)

When the followers heard these words, they remembered. The followers left to tell the Eleven Apostles, but the Apostles thought they were listening to idle tales, and did not believe. Peter ran to the tomb to see for himself; but departed wondering what would happen.

Later, on the way down to a village named Emmaus two of the Apostles walked while discussing the things that had happened. While walking a man approached them and began to speak to them, this man was Jesus Christ, but the two Apostles did not know Him. Jesus asks them why they are sad, and what the reason is for their communication. The two Apostles are flabbergasted as to why this ‘man’ would ask them these questions, they begin to tell Him about the ministry of Jesus and how He was crucified. Jesus responds; “…O fools, and slow of heart to believe… Ought not Christ to have suffered these things…” (Luke 24:25-26) Jesus explains that He has further to walk, but with the evening approaching, the two Apostles invite this ‘man’ to stay with them for the night. While with them, He breaks bread and communes with them, after He is done breaking bread, he disappeared. Upon realizing that the ‘man’ who was with them was Jesus and He had now left after breaking bread with them, they were perplexed; “…Did not our heart burn within us while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened t us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32) Essentially the two Apostles were upset that they were so blind to not even see Jesus!

The two Apostles return to Jerusalem and proclaim to the other Apostles that Jesus had indeed Risen! While they were speaking, Jesus enters and says to them; “…Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” (Luke 24:39) While the Apostles were in shock and were wondering what they had just seen, Jesus asks them; “…Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them.” (Luke 24:41-43)

Here is an important Doctrinal Truth: Jesus Christ has a glorified body of flesh and bones, just like we have as humans. Jesus told His Apostles to touch Him for He had flesh and bones, and He even asked them for food, so that He could eat. Jesus then “…opened… their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures… Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day… that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:45-48) Jesus opens their understanding, so that the Apostles and all those who follow Him can understand the scriptures and know the truth. Jesus had told the people He would be persecuted to death and rise again on the third day, but even then when it happens the Apostles did not believe Him. Jesus explains that His death had to happen, in order to open the door to a remission of sins and the start of missionary work throughout the world, starting in Jerusalem.

Jesus died for ALL of us, that we might be saved. In order to be truly saved, we must follow Jesus, and all His teachings. We cannot follow Him, if we do not follow His commandments and teachings. Jesus is lifted up into heaven and the Apostles rejoiced and worshipped Him in the temple.

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!

Isaiah 63-64

Isaiah 63-64

Chapter 63: We shall accept Jesus as our Father

                Who is this who comes from Edom with dyed red garments? He has trodden the winepress furiously. Nobody was by to help him. A savior redeemed his people, though afflicted. His people rebelled and grieved his holy spirit, so he turned against them. An exile’s plea for restoration – where is the God of Moses, who redeemed his people?

                “…thou art our father through Abraham…” (Isaiah 63:16)

Chapter 64: Salvation at the Second Coming

A prayer for God to intervene, shaking the mountains and making His name known to his adversaries. Sinfulness is confessed, and acknowledged as an obstacle. A plea is made to forget iniquity. God is asked to act in light of the fact that Zion is a wilderness, and Jerusalem desolation.

We are the work of the potter’s hand [God] and we are molded as clay is molded by the potter.