D&C 76 and the Telestial Kingdom, a Different Reading.

On Facebook, I’ve been in a discussion with several in regards to Pres Uchtdorf’s talk on Grace.  The discussion evolved into a disagreement on those who receive the Telestial Kingdom, whether they inherit salvation, are forgiven for their sins, etc.  I was surprised at the wide variety of views given regarding it.

So, I went back to D&C 76 to do a hard look at what it says, and to question our basic interpretation.  Here are some of my thoughts and questions. I hope you will share your additional thoughts in the comments Continue reading

What were your favorite Gen Conf talks, and why?

There were some very poignant and pointed talks in General Conference. Some talked about overcoming doubts, while others spoke of being patient with those who struggle with doubts. Some spoke of the Sabbath and the Fast, while others spoke other commandments, prayer, and obedience.

Three new temples were announced, Ivory Coast, Haiti, and Thailand. How do you feel about temples being built in two of the poorest nations on earth?

For me, there were many very good talks.  But two stood out.

Elder Holland once told me years ago that we should be setting our pulpits ablaze. Sunday morning, he showed us how exactly to do that. Beginning with a powerful story of life and near death, he brought us in.  Then he related the story to our relationship with Christ. Since the Fall of Adam and Eve (and you’ll note he left the door open for an ancient earth), we have been in free fall. We cannot save ourselves, for there is nothing for us to grab onto along the ledge. Only a brave brother stepping forth and grabbing us could keep us from falling into the endless abyss.

Immediately afterward, Pres Uchtdorf spoke clearly and authoritatively on a topic that I’ve waited decades for an official talk on: Grace.  We cannot save ourselves. We are unprofitable servants, even if we could keep all the commandments. We are condemned to hell and death, as no unclean thing can enter God’s presence. Christ’s atonement and grace pays for everything.  And we are “saved after all we can do” does not mean we earn our salvation, but that the only thing we can do is “come unto Christ and be reconciled to Him.”  All we can do is believe and repent and love our Lord. Our obedience then becomes an outward symbol of our inner faith.  We do not believe in “cheap grace”, because Christ paid a heavy price for that grace. He opened the gates and windows of heaven. The gates are open to anyone who will believe in Christ and repent. Exaltation becomes a gift of grace to those who embrace the totality of Christ’s grace. God also sends blessings down upon all his children in this life, opening the windows of heaven and shedding forth His grace.

These two talks will change the discourse we have in our homes, families, friends, classes, and with our non-LDS friends.

Which talks moved you the most, and why?

General Conference – Sunday Afternoon

Presiding: President Monson
Conducting: President Uchtdorf

Prelude – Choir: He is Risen

Choir: My Redeemer Lives
Invocation: Elder S. Gilford Nielson
Choir: He Sent His Son

Elder Hales:

Because of the choices we made in the premortal existence, we have many blessings in this life. We chose then to follow Jesus, and we can now choose to make the same choice.

Spiritual liberty requires having religious freedom. We believe that all people should have the right to believe as he/she will without being attacked for it. Some are offended when we bring our religious faith into the public square, however those same people insist on freedom to express their own beliefs freely.  Such is turning into political intolerance towards people of faith. We need to work with others who believe as we do on important religious and belief concept.

Elder Pearson

Sometimes when we go through difficult times, we are encouraged to “hang in there”. “Hang in there” is not a doctrine of the gospel. Instead, we are to endure to the end.  Many of our struggles occur because we are not enduring, but instead are struggling with making the decision to obey.

We all go through difficult and dark times. It is during those times we must pray. By coming unto Christ, we have the hope to receive eternal life and live with our families forever.

Listening to those who do not believe in Christ will not help you find Him. Nor can one return from his mission, focus on video games and not expect to fall asleep spiritually.  Prayerfully begin to study the Book of Mormon and it will help you regain your testimony.

Elder Pino

Heavenly Father taught Adam and Eve the plan of redemption and then gave them commandments to follow. This is the process God uses to teach us. As we understand the gospel plan, we are able to make proper decisions and manage the trials of life. We should not make eternal decisions based on mortal concepts, but base our decisions on the great plan of happiness God has given us.

Elder Anderson

We celebrate Easter this day. However, we also can look forward to the great promise of the Lord’s Coming. As the Lord establishes his kingdom and work on earth, we can see how He works miracles in our own lives.  His 2nd Coming will be breathtaking. We know he will not come again in swaddling clothes, but come down from the heavens in great power and glory.

Elder Zeballos

Our main responsibilities in life is to seek our own salvation and the salvation of others. And not just regular salvation, but exaltation in God’s highest kingdom. We must do His will. We must learn, understand, accept and live the commandments according to His will.  The path is narrow that we’ve chosen to follow. Often we will go through trials and difficulties, which we do not understand why we must go through. But we do so with patience and faith in doing God’s will.

Choir: Tell me the stories of Jesus

Elder Sitati

We are here on this earth for certain purposes. The first purpose is so that we may gain a body. As part of this, God has given us the commandment to be fruitful and replenish the earth.

Prophets have encouraged us to enter into the temple and be sealed for eternity. We should not put this important commandment off simply to fulfill worldly goals. Nor should we place our standards for a companion so high that all prospects do not qualify.

Subduing the earth means to properly use the things of earth for the righteous benefit of God’s children. This includes gaining master over our own bodies, desires and wants. Many have turned themselves over to the will of the devil, who causes mankind to misuse the earth and ourselves.

Elder Nelson

The Sabbath was made for man as a delight, so we may rest from the struggles of daily life, and to gain spiritual rest.

I use to make lists of things I can and cannot do on Sunday. What we do and our attitude on the Sabbath denotes a sign between God and us. Later in my life I no longer needed to make long lists, but would just ask myself, “what kind of sign would this activity show the Lord?”

There are some wonderful things we can do on the Sabbath.  It is a wonderful opportunity to strengthen family ties, and teach our children the gospel,  Nothing is better than intentional parenting. And as you teach the gospel, you will also learn more.

In paying tithes, we give 1/10th to the Lord. With Sabbath observance, we give one day in seven to the Lord as a sign of our faithfulness, and it increases our love for God.

Choir:  Lord, I would follow Thee

Benediction: Elder Aoyagi

LDS General Conference-Saturday morning session

Notes on the Saturday morning session of General Conference

Presiding: President Monson
Conducting: President Uchtdorf

Speakers: Pres Eyring, Pres Packer, Sister Burton, Elder Oaks, Elder Clayton, Elder Perry

Opening Hymn: Glory to God on High
Invocation: Elder Timothy J. Dykes, Quorums of 70

President Eyring: In a future day, we will see the Savior, and he will say to those on his right hand, “Come into my Father’s kingdom. I was hungry and ye fed me, thirsty and ye gave me to drink….” Continue reading

Book Review: Adam S Miller’s Grace is Not God’s Backup Plan

Grace is not something most Mormons understand well. I joined the Church in 1975 at the age of 16, and for every time I heard someone use the word “grace”, I must have heard the word “obedience” or “keep the commandments” one thousand times.  “Obedience is the first law of heaven” was a mantra back then. I got to a point in my early Mormon life where I believed that Jesus’ atonement was limited, and we virtually earned our way into heaven.

Yet we cannot save ourselves. Without grace, we cannot earn heaven. Even if we kept all the commandments, we could not resurrect ourselves nor find the path into God’s mansions. Continue reading