Learning to Come unto Christ - #4
LEARNING TO COME UNTO CHRIST
Presentation #4 CD 5-7 Merrill Bailey - Salt Lake City, Utah - 1991 (Transcribed & edited from tapes)
Noah's Priests Try to Entrap Abinadi
During the song that was just played I thought of King Noah's priests who were upset with Abinadi because he was telling them they were not living what they were preaching. They called Abinadi before King Noah and decided to trap him (using a scripture) by showing that he was teaching unsound doctrine. The priests played into Abinadi's hands by quoting from Isaiah, and here is the scripture they used:
How Beautiful Upon the Mountains....
Mosiah 12:20 ... "And it came to pass that one of them said unto him, what meaneth the words which are written, and which have been taught by our fathers saying, "How beautiful upon the Mountains are the feet of Him that bringeth good tidings; that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good; that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, thy God reigneth. Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing; for they shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion. Break forth into joy; sing together ye waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord hath comforted his people, He hath redeemed Jerusalem."
Why were they trying to trap him with that scripture? Here Abinadi was rebel rousing, so they are telling him, "You are not bringing good tidings. We want things that feel good and sound good!" Abinadi said to them, "You claim to be living the Law of Moses, and you are against me because I am saying there is a law higher than that, and you are not even living the Law of Moses--not even coming close."
They then said, "We do not need an excuse--let us get rid of him quick-- before he says anything moral!" And Abinadi said, "Touch me not! I have not finished my message; I am going to answer your question. The question you asked me is: ' What does this scripture mean, 'How beautiful upon the Mountain are the feet of Him that bringeth good tidings of great joy.” I am going to show you who comes and brings glad tidings of great joy, and how redemption comes through Christ. I am going to totally answer the question."
Redemption Comes Through
The whole Book of Mormon speaks of the redemption or Christ. In order to better understand His redemption, we are going to talk about some universal principles. One of them is: That which you focus on expands. That principle can pertain to everything we discuss--especially the three major principles we have been and will be discussing throughout these lectures. If we spent our lifetimes and totally understood and expanded on one--just one--of these universal principles, it would totally change our lives forever. Not only that, it would assure us of peace in this world.
The First Major Principle: LOOK WHAT I CREATED!
2. Live without Judgment
3. EVERYTHING IS PERFECT!
Accept the Challenge
I am responsible.
I am not a victim.
The Atonement cleansed and perfected everything and everybody, and as soon as we are ready to embrace and accept the Atonement, we can accept this principle. This makes us free to live without judgment and this, in a way, brings us together to fulfill our purpose tonight.
I invite you to join with me in that purpose--to unconditionally love and support each other. This implies first of all that each of us is willing to love and accept ourselves just the way we are--in all of our magnificence! If we would really practice the principle that everything is perfect--think about it, ponder it, and pray about it--it would absolutely change our lives. It would be like we had been born again. We would not even need the first principle (recognizing that we are responsible for what happens to us in our lives and not continuing to think we are victims) if we concentrated on the fact that the Atonement has perfected everything.
I am willing to accept myself, just the way I am in all of my magnificence.
Living In Joy...
D&C 11:12….."And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea to do justly, to walk humbly….”
Living that one spiritual principle of humility would change our lives. Humility is recognizing we have enough. If we focus on the abundance of the universe and appreciate everything that we have- -everything we already enjoy and experience, feeling we have enough--that is humility.
…"to walk humbly, to judge righteously.... (we decided righteous judgment was non-judgment, or judgment without condemnation)….."and this is My spirit... (what is My spirit? That which "leadeth to do good, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously)...
Verse 13:…."Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of My Spirit.... and what effect will it have upon us if we have His spirit? Will it be a head trip?)..... "which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy ... (That is how we know if we have His Spirit)...."then shall ye know, or by this shall you know, all things whatsoever you desire of Me..... "
Recognizing His Spirit
How shall we be able to judge all things? Obviously--if we have His Spirit. How do we know if we have His Spirit? The only way we can know if all things that we are desiring of Him are pertaining to righteousness is that we are filled with joy. Otherwise, we know we do not have His Spirit
D&C 136:28-29....."If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving. If thou art sorrowful, calI on the Lord thy God with supplication, that your souls may be joyful." (Do not stay in unjoyfulness.)
D&C 59:15-16...."And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving (remember humility), with cheerful hearts and countenances, not with much laughter, for this is sin, but with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance; Verily I say, that inasmuch as ye do this, the fullness of the earth is yours, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth upon the trees and walketh upon the earth…... "
Joy Versus Pleasure
Hopefully, the one thing each of us is beginning to see is that the gospel has got to move from being a "headtrip" to "feeling”. Every scripture we have read is a "feeling scripture. Notice the difference between how you feel when you are using loud laughter and how you feel when it is joy. Joy, happiness, and love are all basically part of the same feeling.
There is a difference with pleasure, however…..there is somewhat of an excitement with pleasure. I do not think the Lord is saying there is anything wrong with that--it is just that pleasure is the lowest level of joy. And if we stay at the lowest level, it keeps us from rising to a higher level.
A Deeper Level of Joy
I have a hard time explaining this to teenagers. They tell me, "You're saying we shouldn't be happy?" I say, "No, He wants us to be happy. He wants us to laugh. He wants us to joke. But if we stay on that level--which even the wicked can get on--then it keeps us from going deeper. And there is a much deeper level of joy which loud laughter, titillation, excitement, and pleasure can suppress."
This scripture adaptation from the Book of Mormon helps: "Bridle (like a horse) all your passions, that ye may be filled with love," Bridle your pleasure and your laughter--do not let it just run amuck--that ye may be filled with deeper joy, deeper pleasure, deeper happiness.
It Is Possible to Live in Joy
It is possible to live on a level of joy and happiness beyond our wildest imagination. As we played that beginning song, I could feel the different vibes....some of you are living on a level of joy that two or three years ago was impossible to you. Others of you are wondering how these concepts fit into the gospel--if you should believe some of these things and if they are really part of the gospel. The excitement to me is you can realize THIS IS THE GOSPEL--that what you have had to this point in your lives is only a preparatory gospel, preparing you to live on this higher level. It will keep on expanding--for you have not seen the limits yet!
We are Responsible for Our Own Joy
We must take the responsibility for finding joy. One of Satan's great illusions is that we need pay no price for joy, that it is like the butterfly…..while we are doing something else, it comes and lands on our shoulder. The whole message of the Book of Mormon is that we are responsible for our own joy—it has to be desired.
What Is The Test?
Our present thinking is that we are here on earth to get a body and to be tested. What is the test? To see if we can live the commandments…..home teaching, go to church? That is maybe half right. The other half is that we should be full of joy! Christ's great sermon on peace and joy as cited in John 16:33 occurred after He met with His Apostles in the upper room:
John 16:33......"These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
We Can Have His Joy
Christ is saying, “I have overcome the world for you. If I am in you, and you are in Me, then you have overcome the world too. And therefore, you can be of good cheer. I have bought for you a life of good cheer ....of joy."
Go through the Topical Guide under "joy," and you will find at least 20 to 30 scriptures describing this state of mind--mostly in Alma. We will discuss Chapters 39 through 42. First, some background on these scriptures:
We have not succeeded in answering all of your problems indeed. We often feel we have not completely answered any of them and the answers we have found only serve to raise a whole set of new questions. In some ways we feel we are confused as ever, but we believe we are confused on a much higher level and about much more important things.
Here we have the prophet Alma--the one who speaks the very most about joy--who had the sons of Mosiah with him when the angel came. He was so full of joy that both he and Ammon fell down on the ground. Something obviously took place with these people that did not take place with any of my converts when I was in the mission field---we experienced joy, but not to the extent that Alma talks about!
Complete Joy Comes From Being Spiritually Born of God
It was Alma’s son who, as a missionary to the Zoramites, went chasing after Isabel, the harlot. If the repentance process worked then as it does today, he was excommunicated and sent home from the mission field. He repented, confessed his sins, and was back in the mission field doing missionary work. This is made clear at the end of his letter (last verse of Chapter 42) Mormon felt that this letter from Alma to his son, Corianton was important enough to include every word of it. This is how he ends it:
Alma 42:31…."And now, O my son, ye are called of God to preach the word unto this people....(so obviously he was back in the mission field, forgiven of his sins)..."And now my son, go thy way, declare the word with truth and soberness, that thou mayest bring souls unto repentance..... "
So a repentant Corianton is back in the mission field--what is the letter about then? We have no other correspondence except this final letter that Alma writes back to Corianton, but from it we gain an insight into what Corianton's letter had said.
Note that Alma, like every good counselor, realizes his son is not stating the real problem. Alma knows that when somebody goes for help he or she first has to know that there is total love and acceptance--that they can trust the person in whom they are confiding. So the person with the problem starts out with an issue that is not as close to him. If it is really close to him he would have solved it himself, if at all possible. People do that. If they cannot solve a problem and keep hitting the wall, then finally they seek help or give up saying, "I'll just play the game until the end of my life. I would rather die than risk my pride and go get help!" After they begin to trust you, you can move in closer and soon (a lot of this is probably subconscious) they think this is the real problem, but it is only the fringe. The real problem is coming closer.
So Alma begins to address what his son says is the problem, but then he slowly starts to move in on Corianton' s real problem, which is what is going to happen in the resurrection?
He used the resurrection with the same definition that we use resurrection....a state we reach after we go to the spirit world and take up our bodies and are reunited with them.
Resurrection – In the LDS initiatory rites the Saints receive on their bodies the symbolic reversal of the blows of death – a legacy of mortality as a result of Adam’s (and our) fall – for a renewal and restoration of the body. Note that the temple worker washes, anoints, and mentions 14 specific body parts (a multiple of 7). The Saints should view the washing and anointing as a representation of the resurrection, or in other words when one receives the initiatory ordinances a symbolic resurrection is taking place.
At this time, how is the Lord going to judge the wicked compared to the righteous, etc?
Corianton's Real Concern--Where is the Joy?
Corianton is on this headtrip about resurrection--and is saying something like, "This is my problem, Dad. I'm in the mission field and I'm trying to teach these people and they have questions--and I'll be honest with you--- I've got some questions too. My buddies who went with me to see Isabel seem, in some ways, as happy as some of the guys I'm teaching the gospel to. How is this all going to work out in the resurrection? I'm not sure that it's fair."
His real question obviously was, "What is going to happen to me, Dad? I've repented. I was in real deep hell. Now I'm back in the Church and back in the mission field, but I'm not really very happy. I'm not a heck of a lot happier than a lot of these people I'm teaching. In fact, they've got some things that I could really learn from them. And that kind of bothers me, because I'm giving my life and although I'm a lot happier than I was when I was chasing Isabel, is this all there is to life? I guess that's okay if it is, because when I’m resurrected then I’ll be happy.”That is basically what Corianton is saying.
Alma begins here to plant a seed--one that I would like to plant with you. It is that the word “resurrection” can have more than one meaning. I am going to put you onto something tonight that you will fight a little, because you are going to look at it with the head. But you will find out it is a true principle if you will pray and ponder about it.
Resurrection--A Different Perspective
Let us look at a scripture that will open the door a little wider. May I suggest to you that this word “resurrection" has a much more powerful and direct meaning than just taking up our bodies at the end of this world.....that is why it is used so much in scripture. The scripture definition of resurrection is the reuniting of the spirit with the body. Our spirits are separated from our bodies when we die, so the only meaning that resurrection can have, is when the spirit that is in the spirit world without a body takes up the body it once had. Right? Wrong.
If we have not had a spiritual rebirth, you and I are in a state of spiritual death right now. Our spirits, according to God, are spiritually dead. Our bodies are still alive and moving, but our spirits--compared to all of the capacities and abilities that spirits have are barely ticking! Consider this only in the sense that we are still in this state of misery known as 'the fall'. If we are in the state of happiness that little children have--up until the age of eight--then our spirits are not dead. Little children’s' spirits are not dead…..their spirits are alive in Christ! They have not yet been cut off from the face of the earth. We are going to look at a scripture that tells what happened at the fall:
D&C 93: 20 …of His fullness
21. I was in the beginning with the Father, am the Firstborn
22. And all those who are begotten through me are partakers of the glory of the same, and are the Church of the Firstborn
23. Ye were also in the beginning with the Father, the Spirit of truth
29. Intelligence, or the light of truth was not created or made.
30. All truth is independent, as all intelligence also
31. Behold, here is agency of man, and condemantion…..
32. And every man whose spirit receiveth not the light is under condemnation.
33. For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and the spirit and element, inseparably connected receive a fullness of joy;
34. and when separated, man cannot receive a fullness of joy.
38. And God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God.
See Alma 42: 22-23 about spiritually dead – resurrection of the dead bringeth men back into (unto) the Presence of God.
Alma 42:6-7…..."But behold, it was appointed unto man to die--therefore as they were cut off (Adam & Eve) from the tree of life they should be cut off from the face of the earth--" see Verses 8 to 31 about the plan of mercy and joy.
Spiritually, We Must Become as Little Children
Little children are not cut off spiritually--they "feel" every flower. I said to my students yesterday--the first day back from spring break, "Your spirit received a marvelous teaching today all the way to school." They did not get it. They did not notice the daffodils, the leaves on the willow trees, the green hue covering the mountains near Bountiful which were brown only last week, the deeper color on the evergreens, and the grass starting to turn green. I said, "The Lord sees to it that our spirits are being taught constantly."
Develop the Awareness of Children
Little children are not cut off from the face of the earth. If you do not believe it, walk into a room sometime where there are some little children. When you spot a little child of about eight, just watch him and you will see that he is aware of everything in the room…..try to catch his eye, and within a second he will look at you and say, "You're aware too! We're the only ones in the room who are aware!" Children are surprised when they catch an adult who is aware. Suddenly it is like the two of you are in on a secret. The child is awake, not dead, but most of the adults in the room are dead, spiritually .
What really happens is that we are in bondage--bound by the brain—by the subconscious mind. Our spirits are not in bondage, but our conscious minds are, so the Lord says there is not a fullness of joy.....because the spirit is not reunited with the body. If it were, we would be resurrected and we would be back in the state as little children! Does that remind you ofscripture? We must become as little children or we cannot enter the kingdom of God." 3 Nephi 11:37-38
Effects of the Fall
Because of the fall, we entered this world of misery. Thoreau was right....most men and women live lives of quiet desperation. You can see it in their faces; you can feel it in them. Most people, to one degree or another, live in misery, and the only comfort we have is to look around and see that everybody else is in it too.
Corianton was saying to Alma, "That's okay, Dad, because when we get to the resurrection then all of us--who have lived the gospel, gone through all the sorrows, kept the commandments, and gone on missions—will be resurrected to a state of happiness and joy, and then it will all have been worth it. And those guys who haven't had to pay this price--they are still chasing 'Isabel' (which sometimes I wish I was)--when things are bad will get their punishment then!" At that point Alma gently says:
Alma 40:15…."Now there are some that have understood this state of happiness and this state of misery, of the soul….. (the definition, of soul is spirit and body)....."this state of misery, of the soul, before the resurrection was a first resurrection. Yea, I admit it may be termed a resurrection, the raising of a spirit or the soul and their consignation to happiness or misery, according to the words which have been spoken."
See D&C 93:20-38
Resurrection: Rebirth of the Spirit
The Lord also calls this reuniting from the fall a “resurrection"--a rebirth of the spirit---being born again! Alma is going to "drop a bomb on Corianton in a minute, but he is being gentle. He is saying that some have gone astray--they have wrested the scriptures--and then in verses 3-4 he is answering the question that really is not the question.
Alma 41:3....."And it is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works....(Corianton, you are absolutely right. Your good works are going to save you, even as miserable as you are!)...." and if their works were good... (now he is starting to plant words here--play with some definitions)….."and the desires of their heart were good…..(he is starting to dig a pit)….."that they should also at the last day.....”
The last day--that is the final judgment we like to talk about. When is the final judgment? Right this second! We are being judged right this second, and in a minute Alma is going tell us who is judging us--which is even more scary:
".... if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also at the last day be restored unto that which is good." Verse 7: we are our own judge!
New Meaning of “Last Day”
Stay with my definitions and lights will go on. The “Last day" is the last day we spend in Hell, because we cannot get to the Celestial Kingdom by ourselves. There is no way we can ever pass this great gulf that exists by ourselves. It is impossible. All mankind are damned. Sanctification is an event and a process. We can never go back, except illusion-wise, if we are not exercising faith. This means having hope for something unseen, but real and true--that we are perfect, that we have been bought, but it does us no good if we do not know it. If we lose sight of that, then we are back under the buffetings of Satan.
The “last day” can mean Reborn of God, or Sanctified by the Holy Ghost, or Calling and Election made Sure, or Endured to the End, or Enter into His Rest, or to Receive a Fulness, or Holy Order, or Born of God, etc. See 1 Ne. 13:37; 1 Nep. 16:2; 1 Nephi 22:31; Alma 13:29 (last day, enter into His Rest); Alma 41:3; Moroni 7:47 (found possessed of Charity at the “last Day”); 2 Nephi 33:9…until the end of the day of probation; 2 Ne. 33:4…and to endure to the end which is life Eternal; 2 Nephi 33: 11…that they are His words at the “Last Day”.
Even the Sanctified Must Take Heed
Let us see what happens to those who are sanctified. Even the sanctified must take heed, because if they forget they are sanctified--if they do not keep that remembrance before them-- (the two words used most in the Book of Mormon are “remember, remember”, according to President Kimball)--they are in danger of falling to a lesser state. We covenant in the Sacrament prayers to always remember Him. And if we should forget it-- if we forget we are perfect--if we forget we are saved, we might as well not be, because we are right back to the Terrestrial. So, yes, sanctification is an event and a process.
Telestial or Celestial--Which Way Will It Be?
You could say there is an inconsistency here. One time I tell you it is easy, but now I am telling you that it is something you have to work on every single day. Which is it? The answer is “Yes!”
That does not seem like answer, but it is. We have the Celestial Kingdom and we also have its opposite—hell, the Telestial Kingdom. Hell is hard—a state of misery, depression, fear, or unhappiness. Do you remember our definitions of fear and pain? Pain is always the result of fear, whether emotional or physical. And fear is always the result of withholding love. We are always withholding love from ourselves and usually from others, and usually from life. So this is hell; this is the fall. This is the common law of carnal man. And seeing almost everyone living in it does not make it any easier.
Then there is the other area, called “the peace” - - the peace that surpasseth understanding. He says, "My burden is light, my yoke is easy." (Do not miss it because of the easiness of the way.) Does that mean it is easy to stay here? No. It is easy when we are here and we have to stay, but if we start breaking any of the principles and try riding two horses, we are right back in the Telestial.
Call Upon Him With Faith
How do we learn to appreciate being of good cheer? We have to pay a price for it! We have to wake up in the morning and drop to our knees the first thing and acknowledge to our Heavenly Father, that there is no way we can bridge this gulf by ourselves--that we need His Atonement. In no way can we pretend that our works justify us for His Atonement, or that any price we might pay could buy it, because He will not sell His Son's blood for any amount of money. So there is nothing--no works--nothing we can do to get it by ourselves. It has to be a gift from Him. And so we call upon Him with faith, in the Name of His Son, acknowledging our total dependence upon Him, pleading for His Spirit to be with us. And He, in His love, says, "Alright, it is your gift. You can have this different feeling. You have to step out of time, so just stay with Me for all of eternity and you will not have to struggle with this again--ever again,"
Works Will Follow Desires
With Him…. The sweet. Every tear will be wiped away and we will receive that fullness. Without Him....the bitter. We do not appreciate anything we do not have to struggle for…..that’s why we are judged by the desires of our hearts--not by our works. Not that our works do not count, but our works will follow. The works are like the tail of the dog…..the desires like the head. We have had the dog going backwards all of our lives--the tail (the works) follows the dog wherever the dog goes, (but for some odd reason we want the tail to wag the dog).
We Must Share Our Gifts of Love.
How badly do we want to be happy? How badly do we want love? First we must acknowledge that His love for us makes this whole thing possible. After we kneel at our beds and plead for and feel His spirit go through us, do we just say, "Okay, that's it for the day." No! Now that we are free agents we can choose to spend all day long loving others. Why not? The kind of joy or love we have is because of His love, so we are beggars before the throne of God--how can we not love others all day long? How can we not plead with all the energy of our souls for charity? We are recipients living on borrowed love. So now, how well do we perform in loving others? We are appreciative (that is the humility) for the abundance of love that we have just received and that we have been given a choice.
The Choice - Agency
We have now chosen to love others all day long--to go into the world looking at everybody else as being perfect. How we judge everybody else is really how we are judging ourselves, so if we cannot give unconditional love and support to everybody we meet just the way they are--not the way they should be, could be, ought to be, or must be, but the way they are--who are we really crucifying? Ourselves! We are right back in the Telestial.
Both sides have to be perfect or we live in hell. Can you understand that? It can never work according to God's plan with just one side perfect. That is what we have done all our lives with the preparatory gospel. The whole purpose of the preparatory gospel is to be the stumbling stone (the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil). One side is perfect.....the other side is imperfect...
People get really upset when I suggest they are not living in joy…..because then they feel guilty. Let me show you something.
The First Principle Expanded Upon
The basic principles all work together. If we have to have a reason outside ourselves (blame) for being miserable, we will always go back to misery. When we blame someone or something for our misery, we give that person, thing, or circumstance complete power over our lives.
When someone does something to us, or when that thing out of our childhood happens again, or when that circumstance arises again we are right back into being controlled by outside circumstances.
Can you see which principle this embraces? LOOK WHAT I CREATED! This is a hard concept to accept. As long as we are into blaming, we have to find some way to control our lives and those around us to keep the misery from happening. This never works…..it makes us dependent. When we are dependent, we are fearful, manipulative, and people-pleasing…...or we are angry and aggressive, or we flee into work or travel or anyone of hundreds of maladjusted behaviors. See book by Jess Lair
Exposure of Self
All this may not make sense at first, but when we put it together with a few other things it will become clear. Because the exposure of self lies at the heart of neurotic shame, escape from the self is necessary. This escape from self is accomplished by creating a false self. The false self is always more or less than human; it may be a perfectionist or a slob--a family hero or a family scapegoat. As the false self is formed, the authentic self goes into hiding. Years later, the layers of defense and pretense are so great that we lose all awareness of who we really are.
Ego--Hiding from the Real Self
In the Garden of Eden, the use of the fig leaves represents covering ourselves with ego. This is the major lesson taught there. It is crucial to see that the false self may be an exact opposite.
Look at your own family and you will probably see examples--either the super perfectionist that does everything right, or the rebel. But they are both part of the same thing. They are both hiding out from the real self. Both are driven to cover up their deep sense of self-rupture--the hole in their soul.
Toxic Shame Concepts
They may cover up in ways that appear to be polar opposites, but each is still driven by neurotic shame. In fact, the most paradoxical aspect of neurotic shame is that it is the core motivator of the super achiever and the under achiever, the star and the scapegoat, the righteous and the wretched, the powerful and the pathetic. These concepts are taken from the book "Toxic Shame'" by Bradshaw.
Being judgmental and moralizing are offshoots of perfectionism--ways to win a victory over the spiritual competition. Condemning others as bad or sinful is a way to feel righteous. Such a feeling is a powerful mood alterator and can become highly addictive. Righteousness--under the definition that you and I have grown up with--can become highly addictive.
When one is using perfectionism, moralization, and judgment to mood-alter one's own shame, one is acting shameless. The children who are the victims of perfectionism, judgment, and moralization have to bear their shameless caretaker's shame. This is not only emotionally abusive and soul murdering, it is spiritually abusive, since only God is perfect and shameless. To act shameless is to play God. Children of shameless parents are given a distorted foundation for experience in God.
Arrogance is a Cover-Up
Arrogance is a way for a person to cover up shame. After years of practicing this, the arrogant person is so out of touch he truly does not know who he is. This is one of the great tragedies of shame cover-up. Not only does the person hide from others, he hides from himself. It goes into this thing called the Law—the "preparatory gospel" if it is not transcended. If we do not go beyond it to total nothingness, so that we have to depend on the Savior to save us and let love and the Atonement permeate our lives, then it actually becomes a two edged sword. Then we crucify our own God out of a sense of shame, because it is a highly addictive thing. Self-righteousness is highly addictive. Look at the hell and havoc it raises! You and I have grown up with it all around us. We, of all people, should know and see this as a truth.
Bradshaw does not give the cure for this, however. He well describes the fall--I have never seen a better description. But for coming up with solutions, there is no one worse.
Absolute Forgiveness is Necessary
Brothers and sisters, I testify that the only solution is forgiveness—total, complete, absolute forgiveness—of anyone that have ever wronged us. Our parents did the very best they could. We are not repressing and putting anything under the carpet, we are totally bringing it out and looking at it, and realizing that they are perfect. They did the very best they could in what was required of them--just the way we do.
The only one who can save us is our Savior. We cannot go back and take ourselves in our arms from babyhood and rock ourselves through meditation, etc. The only thing that will save us is the Atonement. It is the total complete forgiveness of our entire environment that will free us. Until we can forgive every thing in our environment, (including ourselves) we are fooling ourselves. When we are in the terrestrial state we have to realize that there needs to be opposition in all things and so the Savior atoned for this side too. He atoned for our weaknesses and our infirmities, as well as our sins--for our ignorance as well as our knowledge.
Embracing the Atonement
First go to Alma 12
In King Benjamin's address he makes same wonderful statements about Atonement. He tells us how to make the Atonement effective in our lives:
Mosiah 3:11-12....."For behold and also His blood atones for the sins of all those who have fallen by the transgression of Adam (who partake of the Tree of Knowledge), or who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned....”
So the Atonement covers just about everyone, even those who ignorantly sin…..those who just do not know any better. But here is the one I like, because this where I fall....
.....But wo, wo, unto him who knoweth that he rebelleth against God…..(those wo’s are for me!)...."For salvation cometh to none such, except it be through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ."
So no matter whether we know what we are doing or we do not know what we are doing--as long as we call upon the Savior for that mediating love and that Atonement, we are still saved. He pays for our infirmities. He pays for sins, He pays for our pains. The Atonement covers infirmities, inadequacies, and everything. Why? So that we can have opposition--because there needs to be opposition in all things. So what about the rest of eternity? Do we always have to live with this? In a sense, yes--not struggling against it anymore, but always having it there as a backdrop so that we can appreciate working for happiness and joy.
Giving Up Versus Surrendering
We often confuse giving up with surrendering. As a counselor, I see so many people who are totally ready to give up. How many times have you heard people say, "I gave up and things got worse? What is the matter with God? Doesn't He realize I have surrendered?"
We have to surrender from a position of strength. God does not want a co-dependency relationship…..that is the biggest shock of the universe. One thing the preparatory gospel might seem to imply (we have built it in there) is that God runs an obedience school--that the first law of heaven is obedience. I have heard that all my life. I do not believe the first law of heaven is obedience…..at least our false understanding of obedience.
God Does Not Want us to be Co-Dependent
God wants surrender, but He wants total surrender and commitment from a position of strength. From such a position we can totally surrender and totally commit to our responsibility and what is happening to us. Sometimes in the Church it is those people who seem to try the hardest to be the most obedient who get kicked in the teeth. You might ask: “Why? They are the best people!" Maybe there is a message for us--we are here to create love and give unconditional support, but we create through the Spirit of God, which is like Him. It is not because we lose our identity, or are usurped in Him. Satan wants to absorb people. Christ and God want to keep us independent and creative on our own. Heavenly Father does not want us to give up and just call it surrender…...what He wants us to do is to surrender from a position of strength, because it is our choice.
How many times have you heard people in the depths or depression bragging about their humility, “I’ve surrendered to God and done everything He wants to me, and I'm still suffering like crazy! When is He ever going to realize I've given up? I am surrendering to God--totally to His goodness, His perfection--there are no terms!" When we give up there are always terms. Do you see the difference? It is a feeling inside--there really is a difference.
it does not pay to watch your financial status too close to see how well you are doing when you are into surrendering, because there will be a lag time--I promise you. I have never ever seen it fail. However, I know with absolute certainty that if you will get in touch with these eternal universal principles and start living according to them, the abundance of the universe will begin to flow to you. But if you are always watching over your shoulder to see how it is doing, you are automatically out of surrendering.
Universe Designed to Give Abundance
You are kidding yourself when you first go into humility if you are thinking of prospering….the most used word in the Book of Mormon is “prosper". God is not trying to program us like Pavlov's dogs--He wants His righteousness to be a free choice, but He wants us to see what it can bring (if we will receive it). God wants us to enjoy the blessings of His righteousness, to see how connecting to universal principles, getting off the horse of the world and getting on the one horse of His Love, pays. The pay is that the whole universe is designed to bring forth creativity and to give abundance.
Spiritual and Material Abundance
You will receive abundance--both material and spiritual--like you can never believe! For me, personally, it means all kinds of rewards--not just spiritual rewards. If we do it because we want to be abundantly wealthy it will never work, because we are out of the principles and on the horse looking for things of the world. But if we do it for the right reason; the things of the world will come flooding in beyond our imagination—only to teach us that universal spiritual principles really work.
However, we have to keep our focus on correct principles--not on money, things of the world, honors of men, or other co-dependency relationships, or on any other rewards. Do not rationalize it away, because we, as a church, are very famous for this. We cannot do what Corianton was doing--enduring with gritted teeth. (We want to do it Corianton’s way, but that way does not work)
Joy with the Sadness
Here is the closest I can come to explaining it: You can have joy and be at a funeral. Yet you can be sad and sorrowful and know that it is the same feeling as joy. At times you may have been at a beautiful funeral and in your heart there was a joy with the sadness.
There is a mourning for the sins of the world that is still a joy. But it is a whole different kind of sadness than misery, depression, fear, or pain. It is a whole different feeling. Joy, peace, and happiness are all the same, There, will be times when we are still in 'hell', because that is part of the Law, but it is just another form of love.
Opposition in All Things
Remember the three ways of expressing love: withholding it, distorting it, or openly giving it…..all are love. It is not all black or white--they are all love because there needs to be opposition. There are times when we are depressed, when we lose our tempers. These present a good contrast of where we do not want to be. So we move back over to the Celestial because we are free to choose the Atonement. That is what is so beautiful! This is the part we, as church members, have not realized--that the Atonement makes us free to choose. All things are given unto us that are expedient unto man, and we are free to choose. That goes back to the first principle: I am not a victim of my environment--I am free to choose the Atonement.
I hope I have planted some seeds--I hope there is no one here who still thinks they are victimized. Just remember that choosing it consciously and choosing it subconsciously are completely different. I am making a point of this because we do not realize the power that God has given us for our own lives. When that realization comes to us, then our love for Him expands a thousand times over.
Become as the Gods
There is a much deeper appreciation of God and who He really is if we realize how much He loves us, in that He gives us so much control over what happens--subconsciously. Just stay with this principle in prayer for awhile, because the magnanimity of the gift makes it worth it when we finally realize how loved we are. If we are thinking, "He loves the masses here--He only loves me like He loves everyone," we cannot get that overwhelming sense of reality of who we really are and come to realize our goodness (wholeness). He set this up so we could choose and thus become as the Gods.
Alma 42:3…..now we see that man had become as Gods," (Alma meant it!)
Look at Psalms 82 in the Old Testament…..I know this is the correct translation because the Savior quoted it in His life:
Psalms 82:1-7….."God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; He judges among the Gods. How long will ye judge unjustly and accept the persons of the wicked? Deliver the poor and the needy. Rid them out of the hand of the wicked. They know not, neither will they understand…..(what don't they know, What won't they understand?)...."they walk on in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are out of course."
Nobody understands. The greatest message of all time is lost. What is it that we have lost? Why are we all in darkness? What is the foundation?
"I have said, you are gods…..(that is what we do not understand--we do not realize we are the Gods)...."and all of you are children of the Most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes."
We do not realize that the Olympian gods as taught by the Greeks were nothing compared to who we are and the power (of creation) that we have been given. The Savior also quoted that scripture when the Pharisees started getting angry at Him for saying: “that before Abraham was, I am,” then He said, but Abraham said you are Gods---then if those were Gods from whence you came, is it not alright for us to say ye are Gods?" He put them in their place.
God Empowers Us To Accomplish
CD 6 - 5
All God will do for us is to empower us to do something. You will notice that 90% of what we say here does not make sense intellectually, because the intellect can only deal with black and white categories. However, if you will take a step back, you will feel what I am saying. It may sound contradictory but it really is not.
When we surrender to God from a position of strength He then empowers us to live our lives so that we are not merely reacting. We become instruments in His hands. And by “coming unto Christ and the Atonement--day by day--and living in this peace and this joy, then all things will work together for our good. The Lord said, "I will order all things for your good as soon as you are ready." (D&'C 111:11). We do not know that we are choosing right unless we are in tune with His all powerful, all-knowing Spirit.
The Lord talks about going from grace to grace and shows who we really are in this next scripture:
D&C 93:21-22....."And now verily I say unto you that I was in the beginning with the Father, and am the firstborn”…..(the firstborn of the Father & Mother’s spirit children in the spirit preexistent world).....”And all those who are begotten through Me.....(in other words, born again of the Spirit)...."All ye that in this world are born again of the Spirit through Me are partakers of the Glory of the same and are the Church of the Firstborn."
Church of the First Born
The Glory of God is defined as intelligence or Light and truth--His Glory, Light and truth. Those who are begotten through Christ are the firstborn of the Father in the spirit just like He was.... We are all sons and daughters of the Morning. We are the first born. That is why it is called the Church of the Firstborn--not after Christ, but after they who were born first....
D&C 93:23-24….."You were in the beginning with the Father....(who was? He is talking about us!)....”that which is spirit, even the spirit of truth. And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come. The Spirit of Truth is OF God!"
D&C 88:11 Light (or Truth) is through Him (by the Power of His Spirit).
Jacob 4: 8, 13 And no man should know His ways except it be revealed to him (by the Spirit). And the Spirit speaketh of things are they really are, and of things as they really will be”
Moroni 10:4 “By the power of the Holy Ghost you may know the truth of ALL things.”
Our Spirits Know All Things
How much did we know? Everything. We knew the past. Do you ever wonder why you have a Deja-vu—like you have been ‘here’ before? In that brief few seconds your mind goes on total blowout. It does not understand it, but your spirit knows that you have seen this or been in this experience before. It knows all things. If we know all things, are we going to make the wrong decisions if we are in tune with God's Spirit? Does He have to make the decision for us? It is not a co-dependency relationship, neither is it our own. That is what Benjamin kept trying to say--that we do ‘nothing’ by ourselves. That has been the whole problem with the preparatory gospel--we are trying to earn it our own way.
None of this is ours--it is a gift. Christ came and died and suffered that we might have it as a free gift. We are totally owing to Him....that is why we sing eternal praises to Him--because He empowers us. But that does not mean that we become slaves to God…..He just empowers us because of His goodness and His love. So we become like Him. We become full of love as He is. (and we don’t try to enslave others because we love them)
Why Fight God's Love?
Giving up means to stop trying. Surrender means to stop fighting against—just let go and let the universe flow through you. Let this abundance come. In this telestial state we fight to keep the abundance of the universe from getting to us (or away from us), because we are 'victims'. We think we are not worthy of it. So many people think this way. I get frustrated because I see so many of you fighting Christ's love, saying, "I refuse to forgive myself....there is something unrighteous about letting God love me, because I am so wicked and I don't deserve it."
The Biggest Enemy…Ourselves
Surrender is just letting God love us and letting the Spirit flow through us. Once the light goes on we realize that fear is the withholding of love--from ourselves. We thought we had to fight against the world and even against God---because God steps down and takes the place of our parents, at least in our illusions. Sometime we will realize that our biggest enemy is ourself. Freud was wrong....sex is not the big problem of the universe, masochism is.
Masochism is the curse of the world in our age. We are bent on destroying ourselves. Why? Because we are so good. We are so good that we cannot stand anything that looks to us or smacks of badness.
So we are out to crucify ourselves to prove how bad we were to show how good we are. So when we realize we do not have to crucify ourselves--that the enemy has been ourselves, our own illusions, and let go of our illusions then all of a sudden the whole thing just flows and that does away with co-dependency.
We Can Embrace Our Own Perfection
Can something still be perfect and be in process? I believe so. Christ was in process and yet still perfect. As long as we do not see it as part of our progress in getting more perfect--because perfect cannot get more perfect. You see, that becomes an excuse for judging. If we judge our progress as less than it should be, then that is imperfect progress. All our progress is perfect. We will not stop progressing if we accept and embrace our perfection and the world’s perfection. It will not stop progressing.
Forgiveness for Parents--A Must
If we associate judgment and moralization with God in the same negative sense we do our parents--which many of us have done--then we have a tough time with God. If we can move beyond to the forgiveness stage with our parents--which many of us have not done yet--that is the last bastion of making peace. We have to do that before we can make peace with ourselves.
The one we are really having a hard time releasing is the one inside....that is why it is so important to realize that your parents are perfect. They are expressing love....perhaps doing it either in a distorted way or withholding it, but it is still love. That is all they are capable of giving. And when you finally get to that place with your parents, the parent inside of you will go to sleep. And you will start having some peace inside. It is the parent we build inside--from the time we are tiny--that keeps yelling at us, long after our real parents are dead in their graves. We are still dragging them around inside…..that is why it is so important to make peace with the whole picture here and realize it is all perfect.
Tap Into a Single Principle
You do not need to focus on all of the principles. Just zero in on one--eat, drink, sleep, pray, meditate on that one, and it will expand to change your whole life. These principles are so powerful that focusing on one will do marvelous things, but you have even more power if you can look at all three major principles combined with some of the others.
Christ says, "You are in Me, and I am in you." No co-dependency there. If we put that in co-dependency terms, we are as dependent on others as they are upon us.
3 Nephi 19:24 We are guided by the Holy Ghost on what to pray for and what to ask for when we pray – it is given by the Holy Ghost.
But the truth is that both are lies because neither one is dependent on the other. It is a mutual co-existent, admiration, praise, love situation.
God Does Not Want Robots
We can surrender from a position of strength--not giving up. Dependency creates weaknesses, and that is why God will not allow a co-dependency relationship. I tried for the first 35 years of my life to give my life to Him--co-dependently---and He did not want it. It is only when we surrender from a position of strength that we finally have something to offer Him. At that time He says, "Now we can work together. I do not want to destroy you. I want sons and daughters---not robots!"
Do you know what I got for an answer for a long time? Nothing. You are not ready to do anything until you are ready to do nothing. When you are ready to do nothing, what happens next? Let us create a scenario with the Lord....He says, "Are you comfortable doing nothing?" Well, yes. Now what do I do? "What do you want to do?" What do I want to do? "Yes, I will support you--what would you like to do? Through My spirit, what do you want to do?" I would like to take these rocks and make them glow. “Great, let’s do it!” See Ether 2:23, 25; 3:4-6
Corianton…in the “Thick of Thin Things”
What really mattered was--it is called peace, the peace that surpasseth understanding. All we are really doing, as Neal Maxwell says, is straightening the deck-chairs on the Titanic, so we keep in the thick of thin things. And this is what Corianton was doing, and his father set him up. In verse 4 he was still talking with Corianton in his language (in verse 5 he starts to dig the pit.)
Alma 41:4-5….."And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil. Therefore, all things shall be restored unto their proper order, everything to its natural frame---mortality raised to immortality, corruption to incorruption.....(Corianton knew all this--he had learned it in Sunday School. Alma was teaching, starting to set his son up here)….."raised to endless happiness to inherit the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil, the one on one hand, the other on the other.....The one raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness, or good according to his desires of good….."
Goodness is Happiness
Whenever you see the word "good" in scripture from now, think of what Alma's definition of' good is: HAPPINESS. (Or think of what God’s definition of “good” is – “My ways are NOT your ways and My thoughts are NOT your thoughts” – the point is our definition of “good” may not be what God’s definition of “good” is--it is Pure Love) Happiness is goodness--not just doing your home teaching for whatever reason. It has to be happiness! (or Joy, Peace and Love)
Alma 41:5-6 ... "and the other to evil according to his desires of evil; for as he has desired to do evil all the day long even so shall he have his reward of evil when the night cometh. And so it is on the other hand. If he hath repented of his sins, and desired (God’s) righteousness .. "
Alma Explains Righteousness
Now he is using another word to set his son up--he has just changed the meaning or the word "good." Corianton is saying, "I'm good because I'm back in the church and I'm doing missionary work." Alma is saying, "Corianton, not if you're not happy." He is starting to tighten the noose around his neck .. Now he starts with the words "righteousness" because I am sure Corianton was thinking he was righteous.....'I'm good and I'm righteous, because I'm living the commandments and I'm in the mission field. Now he is going to change the word “righteous”--see how he does with this one.
Alma 41:6-7...."until the end of his days, even so he shall be, rewarded unto righteousness .. (now he has dropped the hint) .. "These are they that are redeemed of the Lord; (through His righteousness and the good – or His Love), yea, these are they that are taken out, (taken out of what?), that are delivered from that endless night of darkness; and thus they stand or fall; for behold, they are their own judges....."
Alma was saying, "Corianton, if you're miserable, if you're unhappy, then you're not good, you're not righteous…..and who's fault is it? Who is the judge?" Corianton was probably beginning to sweat big beads down his face.
Alma 41:8-9….."Now the decrees of God are unalterable; therefore, the way is prepared that whosoever will may walk therein and be saved..(do not give me the excuse that you are doing the best you can, Corianton. Don't give me that. You have created what you've got. Just like all of us have. You are the judge)."And now, behold, my son, do not risk one more offense against your God upon those points of doctrine...
Do Not Risk Offense
Alma is not talking about fornication. He is saying, "You are sinning my son, but it's not your fornication. You're sinning because you are refusing to choose happiness and joy and peace and you're thinking that is righteousness--(just like 90% or the ''church members consider it righteousness to endure with gritted teeth.
Alma explains that this problem raises God's ire and His wrath. The first condemnation was placed upon the Church in the first place because we members continue to compete with one another for offices and positions (on the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil). We continue to use the Church and the law as a way of exalting our egos (we are vain in thinking we can exalt ourselves), so the Lord said, "Alright, if that is what you want to do, have it your way. Do not risk one more offense on these points of doctrine."
Alma 41:10….."Do not suppose (same argument), because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness."
Wickedness Never Was Happiness
Look what he just taught. If wickedness never was happiness, then obviously it never was righteousness. That is the bomb Alma dropped! Obviously, unhappiness never was righteousness. And if unhappiness never was righteousness, then happiness never was wickedness. Those three have got to be the same --which means His righteousness is happiness. Wickedness never was happiness. Obviously then unhappiness never was righteousness, and happiness never was wickedness and therefore happiness equals His righteousness. Are you with me?
That is the most profound scripture we have. When do we begin to think of righteousness as happiness, joy, peace, and love, (and as gift’s that we may “receive” from Him) it changes our whole concept of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It changes everything when we finally capture Alma's message to his son. The next verse is where he has no mercy:
Alma 41:11…."And now, my son....(remember, Alma is into joy--he tastes joy—he eats it, he sleeps it).... "And now, my son, all men....(including Corianton, whether they are on missions or in stake presidencies or what)....that are in a state of nature, (or under the fall), or I would say in a carnal (worldly) state, are in the gall of bitterness.....
Seek Peace--Not Stress
The word "gall" 'in Webster's Dictionary says a state of constant irritation, which is another word for our modern word, STRESS: I went through eight years of graduate psychology that taught me there is good stress and there is bad stress--that theory is wrong! There is no such thing as good stress. Stress is stress. Your ulcers cannot tell the difference. I do not care what all the psychologists in the world say. The Atonement bought us a state of peace, of rest, of joy. It does not mean we cease to work or create…..but there is no gall of bitterness. The Gall of bitterness is the fall.
…and in the bonds of iniquity.....(I'm in the bonds of inequity, and the word inequity comes from inequality, competition, one-up-manship, Self-rightousness instead of God’s righteousness)...."they are without God in the world....."
If you want a good cross reference on that one, D&C 84 will scare you. Zion has the same troubles as the rest of the world: "They are not coming unto Me. If we are not coming unto Christ, we are still in the gall of bitterness, in the fall. I do not care how much we are going to church, or how righteous we think we are--we are still in the gall of bitterness.
This is exactly Corianton's position: He had gone contrary to the nature of God…..how can we have God in the world when we are miserable, unhappy, depressed, fearful. The nature of God is none of those things. How can we say we have His image in our countenances if we are nothing like God at all! Can you see the inconsistency of that? I think Corianton did....He had gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, he was in a state contrary to the nature of happiness.
When we are Unhappy the Spirit is Absent
So the nature of God is happiness. And anytime we are in any kind of state contrary the nature of happiness, we do not have the Spirit with us. This is what we read in the 11th section....”You can tell if you have My Spirit because your mind will be enlightened and you will be filled with joy.”
But we have to choose to have it…..we have to work at it. We must set goals for it. We have to monitor ourselves…..we have to say. "Today I am going to try and live in more joy than I did yesterday. I am going to cultivate that feeling of joy, and peace, and love." This cannot be done unless we are striving to live these three principles--we just cannot do it. We cannot live in judgment and have joy; we cannot blame everything else in our environment for our problems--blame our husbands--our wives, or our impossible financial position and have joy. We cannot do it!
LIVE THE PRINCIPLES
We must believe these principles. If we do, then we can have joy. Whenever we are living in that state of joyousness, of peace, of joy, of love, we have God in our lives and we are enjoying the fruits of God. He is in each of us….we are one. We are walking together in the world. We have eternal life at that moment. Any moment we are in joy, we are in eternal life. It is a well of living water springing up inside us. And you can feel it exude from a person…..it just bounces! It is something we cannot fake!
Do we Want the Bitter or the Sweet?
We taste the bitter that we may prize the sweet--the sweet comes if we believe these three principles. It is hard if we are still trying to ride two horses with one butt. We want to be happy and still head for money, all the praise of the world, and all the things we think we need to be happy. We notice how many of our motives are impure and yet we are trying to be happy--have our cake and eat it too. We cannot have it both ways--we have to be pure. Pure means getting illusions out of our lives and getting pure eternal principles into our lives (hearts). It means total non-judgment--total love.
Eternal life is right NOW. This is