The Revelation of God in Jesus Christ


A “god” is the idea of a god — the idea of a god is a god:

The most basic meaning of the Hebrew “elohim” is that of “powers“.  The human mind names, personifies, and maps-out these various “powers” and their interactions, but ultimately the “gods” are the culturally-appropriate manifestations or mental vehicles for a given power/energy/idea.

The demons, angels, pantheons of deity, Gods and Goddesses — they are all the impulses that inspire and guide You — unpackaged and unfolded as poetry and story-form.  They are personifications of the “powers” arising from nature and found within human-nature, externalized and examined in their most potent and purest symbolic form.

They all exist in our right-brain — as the warring desires in our minds, which battle for dominance in our decision-making.  It is we who make the “gods” real by the ones we choose to be guided by and the ones we “make flesh” by our actions.

Thus — if my “guiding power” is violent, then my actions and worldview will be contentious and hostile.  If my “dominant god” is compassionate, then I will experience my life through the lens of acceptance, mercy, and forgiveness.  Etc.

The long-standing human tradition of myths, religions, mystical experiences, etc. — is the essential activity of differentiating yourSelf from the unconscious forces of existence by personifying them, and then bringing them into a relationship with yourSelf consciously.

“Gods” are the set of ideas and perspectives through whom we view our world and ourselves.  They are but a name for someone’s mode of being — relating to their inner-self and their external interactions.  Our beliefs are our reality tunnels — and every one of them is an individual and culturally-appropriate manifestation of the Singular God.

Which is why it’s not entirely respectful to comment on the specific beliefs of another religion/culture to which you do not belong — because God gives the portion of his Word that is expedient and culturally-tailored to the specific conditions found among the community of the seers/prophets who received it [not to your conditions or culture].

The revelation of God in Jesus Christ:

The “God” whom I follow is the story of Jesus Christ.  A belief-system which commits me to the basic concept of servanthood and compassion.

I have voluntarily bound myself to Christ and his Word by my covenant to obey his every commandment.  This voluntary servanthood [or yoke] binds me to the fundamental reality that “God” is found in being under the most, serving the most, and being connected to the most [instead of vice-versa].

The revelation of God in the scriptures is that the most basic fabric of all existence is “chesed” — the loving-kindness and compassion of a God who relates to the universe with the level of intimacy that is the result of “beriyth” — or a covenant.

God is not “self-existing” — for He does all things through covenant [including creation] — which actually binds Him to all things.  A “self-existing” Being is independent and cannot be bound.  This is why God could “cease to be God” if He acts in certain ways — because the power and unity of God is a product [not a starting point] — and He is God because of the covenant He’s bound Himself to.

Thus — faith is not a stop-gap measure, or transient state-of-mind that we can drop once we’ve crossed-over and are “with God”.  All things [including gods] must have and keep faith, for it is the necessary element of the trusting engagement and active cooperation that is “existence”.

God’s covenant relationship with all of creation means that He exists for us — not Himself.  Likewise, all things exist because they are bound in covenant with God as well.  That is why any damned thing in the created universe can return to outer-darkness [“return again to their own place“], where there is no existence.

Neither the elements of the universe nor God are self-existing or independent entities — because the existence of both parties is a covenantal relationship.

Belonging to the “true church” of God has no meaning or value

There is nothing special that I get for having joined the latter-day church of Christ.  In fact, it gives me nothing special or noteworthy — and that’s the point.  There is no advantage to being LDS, to having the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, to holding the rights of the priesthood, or having access to temples, etc. — for me.

You can’t “pass the test” of Life — or “solve the problem” by aligning yourself with the “right religion” on earth before you die — thereby securing your “salvation”.  Life is not a bank you can rob — and “get out” of it with eternal treasure.

Things don’t “get solved” — they comes together and fall apart, and come together again.  “Salvation” or “Enlightenment” comes from letting-go and allowing there to be room enough of all of it to happen — without fearing failure or desiring success.

We naturally desire the immortality of our ego, our beliefs, our group, etc.  God reaches into human history through the person of Jesus Christ to extend immortality to all — on the condition that they accept it unconditionallyalone, meaning by abandoning the hope of securing it for “You” or your “in-group”.

When our “god” is not Jesus Christ — when we do not deny ourselves, cease to identify with this skin-encapsulated center-of-will in the universe, and take up the yoke of Christ — then our fundamental allegiance will always be to Self-preservation, Self-reliance, and Self-centered survival.

We can never be One with God or with others — because we constantly experience God and neighbor as something inherently “Not-Self”.

Having the “mind of Christ” in you means you pour yourSelf out, in love.  Because, in love, surrender is victory.

Instead of falling into Self-centered separation and sin — fall in love, into Christ-centered connectivity and intimacy.

And not just with God — but with your family and your neighbors, your enemies and those who would despitefully use, hate, and persecute you — and this love won’t leave out the animals and plants, the earth and the stars — because deep-down and far-in, it’s all one energy flowing from them, through us, and back out again.

One thing [a uni-verse] that we experience coming through in individual waves.

Next Article by Justin:  Fourth Chapter of Luke

Previous Article by Justin: The Written Records

(A Family that Lives Together…)

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Split-brain Model of the Gospel: The Fall of Man


By the transgression of these holy laws:

[God] created man, male and female, after his own image and in his own likeness, created he them;

And gave unto them commandments that they should love and serve him, the only living and true God, and that he should be the only being whom they should worship.

But by the transgression of these holy laws man became sensual and devilish, and became fallen man.  [D&C 20:18-20]

These holy laws” were not given to Adam and Eve while in the Garden of Eden.  The only commandments given to them before their Fall were to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and for Adam to remain with Eve:

And I, the Lord God, commanded the man, saying: “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”  [Moses 3:16-17]

and

And the man said:  “The woman thou gavest me, and commandest that she should remain with me, she gave me of the fruit of the tree and I did eat.”  [Moses 4:18]

However, after the Fall, Adam and Eve were given new commandments that pertained directly to the worship of God:

And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence.  And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord.

Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.  [Moses 5:4-5, 8]

So, here is where “these holy laws” were given — to Adam and Eve after their partaking of the fruit of the tree of good and evil and their subsequent removal from the Garden of Eden.

At this point, mankind was not carnal, sensual, or devilish because Adam and Eve were obedient unto these commandments [Moses 5:5], and they:

made all things known unto their sons and their daughters. [Moses 5:12]

They brought up their children in light and truth, and were thus innocent before God.  But:

And Satan came among them, saying:  “I am also a son of God”; and he commanded them, saying: “Believe it not”; and they believed it not, and they loved Satan more than God.  And men began from that time forth to be carnal, sensual, and devilish.  [Moses 5:13]

So now we see the transgression of “these holy commandments” spoken of in D&C 20:18-20.  The sin of real idolatry entered in — and so:

Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God.

And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through diobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers.  [D&C 93:38-39]

Paradise:

Man did need to become a kind of animal that had a left-brain concept of a Self as being some separate, skin-encapsulated center of will in the universe.  We had to begin seeing ourselves as something not-God – something fallen away from Him, pretending that we are not one-in-the-same thing.

The Fall brought about by the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is how we could take this cosmic step back [or away, or down, depending on one’s perspective] and start to look at God from an outside perspective, see what kind of dance it is He’s doing – so we could do it too.

The Self [a left-brain, rational conception of “I”, a persona] is one-step removed from God because, though it represents the human wisdom to conceive of God — in order for humanity to gain that wisdom — they must begin to believe that they are somehow separate from God.  With this word “I”, reality splits – like the human consciousness is split, into the subject and the object, doers and doings, this and that.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [John 1:1]

represents the realization of the Word, “I” [who was, in the beginning, both with God and was God], that causes a concept of a separate Self to exist – instead of all things being continuous with God — one continuous happening — or Supreme Being.  The beginning of the human ability to conceive of God comes only when it’s been separated into this-or-that separate Self.

The only way for the mind to understand something is to name it [or to clothe it in language] – essentially taking a step away from it, pretend it’s not you for a moment and simplify it into a model [or personification] of the thing using the intellect.  The universe was created by the utterance of “I am” because this is the beginning of an existence that is separate from God.

So the isolation of the individual as a separate Self is a fiction that mankind has concocted – but then went on to forget that we did so.  It’s a story we’ve all have been telling ourselves – so we can turn around and look at God, as though that weren’t really us.  But this state of individualness is a great fiction – a story each one of us has created as a way to come to understand things by looking at them from the outside, as a way to experience God by pretending that He and us have no relation to each other.

Children and child-like cultures [what we’d label as “primitive” cultures] are still in touch with this paradise to the extent that they have not fully learned the illusion of Persona.

So though mankind did need to “fall” into a conception of their Self as separate existing centers of will surrounded by all of existence [the result of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil], they have no need to become carnal, devilish, or fallen man [the result of heeding the temptations of the devil, becoming subject to him].  The scriptures have examples of specific people or classes of people who work out their own salvation without sin and without the devil having any power over them:

Mortal children:

But behold, I say unto you, that little children are redeemed from the foundation of the world through mine Only Begotten; Wherefore, they cannot sin, for power is not given unto Satan to tempt little children, until they begin to become accountable before me; [D&C 29:46]

Faithful men and women of God:

Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men. [Alma 48:17]

Transfigured believers in Christ:

Therefore, that they might not taste of death there was a change wrought upon their bodies, that they might not suffer pain nor sorrow save it were for the sins of the world.  Now this change was not equal to that which shall take place at the last day; but there was a change wrought upon them, insomuch that Satan could have no power over them, that he could not tempt them; and they were sanctified in the flesh, that they were holy, and that the powers of the earth could not hold them. [3 Nephi 28:38-39]

All people during the duration of the Millennium:

And the earth shall be given unto them for an inheritance; and they shall multiply and wax strong, and their children shall grow up without sin unto salvation. [D&C 45:58]

and

And in that day whatsoever any man shall ask, it shall be given unto him.  And in that day Satan shall not have power to tempt any man.  And there shall be no sorrow because there is no death.  In that day an infant shall not die until he is old; and his life shall be as the age of a tree; And when he dies he shall not sleep, that is to say in the earth, but shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and shall be caught up, and his rest shall be glorious. [D&C 101:27-31]

Fallen man became carnal, sensual, and devilish because when we left paradise — we forgot that this whole probation was really just a cosmic game of pretend.  When Satan lured humans into believing that the feeling of a separate Self was in fact the actual state of things — it created isolation, fear, and competitiveness.  We started to be “that guy” who starts taking the game of Monopoly a bit too seriously.  We start acting like life is something that we can master or one-up — like life is a bank that we can rob.  We exalt the Self above all else — we place our first allegiance to a fictitious feeling of Personhood.  We transgress “these holy commandments” because we see God as something “other“, and then try to make our Self love Him above all else.

The purpose of the devil:

And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children ofmen, or they could not be agents unto themselves… [D&C 29:39]

After Lucifer rebelled against the majority vote against him in the pre-mortal council, he lost all power [agency] and was going to be straight-away removed from the kingdom of God into outer darkness.  He thought up a purpose for himself and those who rebelled against the law of common consent — and proposed that he and his angels instead be cast down to earth to try and tempt the children of men because, as he reasoned:

if they never should have bitter, they could not know the sweet…

As this was the desire of one of His children, God rendered according to that desire and allowed the matter to be voted on by the rest of us.  We used our agency to chose to have an adversary be on Earth to tempt us.

We were “agents unto [our]selves” in heaven and voted to have Lucifer here doing this work among us – we gave him a purpose he wouldn’t have otherwise had.  God always honors the agency of all things [or He would cease to be God], meaning that everything must be done by the common consent of the governed – or in other words, the keys of the heavenly tribe must be honored, which is why “it must needs be that the devil should tempt” us here – otherwise, our agency expressed in the pre-mortal council would have been abridged or over-ridden.

So we have Satan, the great dragon, being:

cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.  And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” [Revelation 12:9-10]

and

…by the power of mine Only Begotten [agency], I caused that he should be cast down; And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice. [Moses 4:3]

Satan and his angels were cast down to the hell here on Earth, instead of straight into outer darkness — not because God needs a Satan-figure to fulfill the plan of salvation, but because God needs Satan here “that we might be agents unto ourselves,” or so that our vote and choice to have the devil here to tempt us would be honored.

Mortality is, for the most part, a hands-off period of examination.  God puts us in a learning environment and then sees what we do with it.  The Lord has stated that:

it is not meet that I should command in all things… [D&C 58:26]

God always prepares for every contingency, so even with Satan here [voted in by us], He prepared a means to save us from Satan’s power, should we have fallen into it – so we could then choose to be liberated by the prepared Savior.  Regardless of what men choose with their agency, the plan of salvation that God has prepared cannot be frustrated, with or without a devil among us.

The fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil:

The primitive , child-like [innocent and unfallen] state of humanity experiences God as essentially all things in existence.  This natural state recognizes human life as something inexorably connected to all other things.  It’s the oceanic feeling that infants and animals [non-rational life] experience – purely right-brain, a divergent view of all things at once, a single spontaneous happening.  This is the right-brain, the mind’s Atlantis, the realm of visions and dreams, the lunatics and werewolves, unconscious, unreason – inspiration.  It is without concept of time, persons, distinctions, and morality.

However, a paradisical state of oneness with nature [and God] does not allow for a concept of God to exist because to be one with something means you cannot know or discern the difference between it and you.  You can’t look in your own eyes, touch your own finger-tip, taste your own tongue, etc.

Per our vote in the pre-mortal councils – it was decided that Satan would be permitted opportunity to try and to tempt mankind while on Earth.  In order for us to be agent unto ourselves, God designated a time in which Adam and Eve would be left unto themselves to allow Satan the opportunity to tempt them to partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

This fruit was forbidden by commandment during the duration of time God left Adam and Eve unto themselves to be tempted – to see if they would partake at the direction of Satan or await further instructions from the Lord.

This fruit had no magical properties to it – it was just a bitter fruit in a garden of sweet and pleasant to taste fruits.  Humanity lived in a state of uncontrasted existence.  They had no left-brain vision of contrast, distinctions, and separation.  The purpose of the fruit was to awaken them to an understanding of differentiation between things — to turn on their left-brain and cause it to start dividing the world into man and woman, pleasure and pain, light and dark, life and death, virtue and vice — this and that.

Partaking under the direction of God would have caused the Fall [left-brain consciousness and death] – but not carnality, sensuality, and devilishness.  We would have had death — but not hell.  Death [like apocalypse] seems scary, but it is also natural.  Death, in plainer terms, just means “a change of state“.  It’s the death of the old that births the new — the death of all our earthly ambitions, worldly ideas, and petty emotions so that we can be reborn as the highest manifestation of humanity — God as a human, or Jesus Christ.

You see, the relationship between humans and God is the relationship between humans and the realization of their highest Self.  Meaning that the only difference between God and humans is that humans still see a difference between God and humans [because they are using their left-brains to look].

We can our spend lifetime searching for salvation, enlightenment, the Philosopher’s Stone, the City of Gold, Atlantis, the Garden of Eden, the Fountain of Youth, etc. — when all the time, we carry it around in us:

behold, the kingdom of God is within you. [Luke 17:21]

Partaking, however, under the direction of Satan, caused left-brain consciousness and death, along with carnality, sensuality, devilshness, and hell.  Without God’s further instructions, the left-brain became awakened but then immediately darkened in captivity to the devil.

And if we remain in that state until mortal death — then we are damned, which means to be fully captivated by the power of the devil, fully subject to him — because we yielded in obedience to him:

that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.  For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.  [Alma 34:34-35]

and

Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness [Romans 6:16]

Instead of being a tool used to take a step-back from a continuous and unified state of existence with God and nature, in order to gain wisdom of Him and the dance He is doing – the left-brain became the tower in which our unconscious, right-brain attention, the moon, and womanhood lay chained — hardened and atrophied.  The female power within every human [the lunatic power of the moon], constrained in the ring of the seven male stars of the classical liberal arts:

  • Arithmetic
  • Music
  • Astronomy
  • Rhetoric
  • Grammar
  • Logic
  • Geometry

Such power – the left-brain system of symbols and images — used to suppress a natural state of mind that had ruled for millions of years – next to the relative short period of man’s 6,000 year reign.  But the masculine pattern of control grows weaker amidst our current tumultuous times — when the right-brain, feminine dynamics may begin to re-emerge.

Redemption:

Whosoever will come after me, let [them] deny [their] self, and take up [their] cross, and follow me. [Mark 8:34]

Redemption from the Fall is about getting over the sensation of being a Self locked out from everything not-Self – of being only one Self who was flung into competition and conflict with every other object it can experience.  Humans have come up with many different systems to accomplish this project:

  • religion
  • psychotherapy
  • Zen meditation
  • yoga
  • hallucinogenic drugs
  • sensory deprivation
  • fasting
  • positive thinking
  • chanting mantras

The problem with every one of these systems is that getting seriously involved in any one of them just further boxes you into another elite group – another Self that sees itself as separate from the rest of everything not-Self.  You didn’t get out of the box, just made another one to jump into.

The out-of-the-box, right-brain consciousness experience of your Self cannot be made to happen by any act of your fictitious will because that perspective only validates the existence of the separate Self [unless of course the repeated efforts to be accidental on-purpose eventually reveal to you the futility of such efforts].  There is no way to internally manifest the will to get rid of the feeling of separateness as a Self.  That would be like trying to go to sleep – for in your trying, you mess the whole thing up.

It’s why moralistic preaching doesn’t work.  Focusing on behavior and doctrine only breeds good hypocrites [good actors] — people sermonized into shame, guilt, or fear – forcing themselves to behave as if they actually believed the things they say they do.  We make disciples by sitting around and talking – and then act surprised when our disciples go on to sit around and talk.

We work at trying to do things that would just be part of our nature [how we are] if we would soften our hearts in repentance.  God’s commandments are not instructions on behavior that will get the Spirit to work on us – they are descriptions of what results once the inner nature of a person is changed by the Spirit.

Churches are a problem too because currently, they aren’t communities.  They are groups of people trying to produce a community.  It’s backwards.  The church gathers because of their changed hearts and their connection to each other – it doesn’t gather in order to make those things happen.  The “ekklesia” was supposed to be the vacation or rest from the world – while we can’t think of anything better to do after three hours of church on Sunday than to get home and rest from it.

So — you can’t get rid of the fallen, left-brain, Self-sensation – so don’t try.  Take it, like any other feeling you have, as a feature of your total process – a wave of hot or cold, angry or sad.  Working to get rid of the Self is the ultimate act of Self-ishness – it simply confirms and strengthens the reality of the feeling.

This is what’s made me reevaluate what prayer is to me.  Any spiritual exercise [be it prayer, meditation, yoga, or whatever], when practiced in order to get some spiritual experience, only strengthens the fallacy that I am my Self.  Speaking “out there” to God as though He was only this separate entity that resides somewhere else in the cosmos just continues the Fallen fiction that my Person is something separate from God.

There is nothing wrong with praying just to pray – in the same way we listen to music just for the music.  You don’t worry about the value of it.  What’s the purpose of prayer – it has no purpose, and that is its purpose.  That may sound like Eastern, paradoxical nonsense – but think about what is the practical application of the universe — of billions of galaxies swirling around?  What’s the use of playing music [or any other art or game]?  If you play music to make money, or outdo another artist, or be a person of culture, etc. – then you aren’t really playing because your mind’s not on the music.  Things like games or art are a waste of valuable time and money that could be put into more practical applications – rather than making elaborate patterns or color or sound.  But what would we think of a society with no room for music and games, dancing and art?  Such a society would be surviving [biologically alive] – but to no end.

  • The universe is, at its core, an illusion [the Latin ludere], a play, or a ludicrous game of pretend.
  • It’s magic – being enchanted [the Latin incantare] by the song of images and measurements.
  • It’s meaningless, meaning it has no point unto itself.  Like a flower is meaningless – it’s all just dancing patterns of light and sound, water and fire, vibrations and rhythm, electricity and space.
  • The world is an amazing [amasian or lost in a maze] arrangement of letters – a spell [the Latin fascinum], or spelled with A-T-C-G, Lys-His-Met-Ala-Pro, C-H-O-N-P-Na-Cl-Au.

All of existence, then, is one thing, one shape, one happening.  Separate persons and events are merely arabesques is an over-all fractal pattern – which is all continuous with the whole created universe — all of it continuous with [or unseparated from] God.  A redeemed sense of reality.

You can return now to your separate moments, separate selves, and separate rooms — and know that separation for the imaginary [or image-based], feeling that it is.  You can go about your practical affairs again – but now with a new sense about it all.  There is no “You” who can get something out of this game – life is not a bank that you can rob.  Your Self is God attempting to look at itself from billions of points-of-view.

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The Will of God and Faith


Romans 9: 6-24 [English Standard Version]:

…it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.”

And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad — in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls — she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written [in Malachi], “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

What shall we say then?  Is there injustice on God’s part?  By no means!  For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will? But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?  Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this? Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory — even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

The two historical cases:

Looking at Paul’s logic — because God chose one of Abraham’s spouses over the others, it follows that claiming descent from Abraham was not sufficient to make one an heir to God’s promise:

And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.

Further because God chose one of Rebekah’s twins over the other, claiming descent from Isaac was not sufficient to make one an heir to God’s promise.

And Isaac intreated the Lord for his wife, because she was barren: and the Lord was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.  And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the Lord.  And the Lord said unto her, two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.

NOTE:  However, Rebekah was told that the older would serve the younger.  Given the Lord’s vernacular for presidency/leadership as voluntary servitude – perhaps this was a misunderstood revelation, and that misunderstanding led things to play out the way they did.  Just a thought.

The extrapolated case:

From these two historical cases, Paul theroizes that it is then likewise true that claiming to be “of Israel” cannot demonstrate that a person is right with God [or justified].

The implication made by using Abraham and Isaac as examples, is that being a justified believer is still a function of God’s choice [like choosing Sarah’s son over Hagar’s, and choosing one of Rebekah’s sons over the other].   He either made you for glory or for wrath and you are in no place to dispute His choice for you.

This is the Calvinistic doctrine of “irresistible grace” — wherein they conclude that it is not possible for humans to have any role in justification — because how could we do anything more than God could do Himself?

What about faith?

However, Paul consistently stresses “faith” as the means of access to God and to a justified state with Him:

Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.  Is he the God of the Jews only?  is he not also of the Gentiles?  Yes, of the Gentiles also:  Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.

and

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

and

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

and

But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.  Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

and

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Faith = Word of God + Belief + the Spirit:

So, if humans have access to God by virtue of faith — then it must still be God’s irresistible choice as to who “gets faith” and who does not — right?  To answer this question, it requires one to look at Alma’s preaching on the subject of faith that is found in Alma 32:

Now, we will compare the word unto a seed.

Equating the word of God with a seed is also done in Luke 8: 11;  1 Peter  1: 23; Romans 10: 17; and Galatians 3: 2-9.  The farmer analogy is quite accurate.  The right-brain-hearts of humans are soil, which can be at varying degrees of receptiveness for the seeds, which are the various doctrines of God, the devil, and of men.  The faith that will justify a person with respect to God comes as the ever-good seed is allowed to germinate and grow in the right-brain-heart.

Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart,

This “place” is given in the right-brain-heart.  It involves the concept of yielding [Mosiah 3:19] or being lowly, humble, and teachable.  Broken soil [or a softened right-brain-heart] is a result of a person humbling him/herself — thereby having a broken heart or contrite spirit.  This is equivalent to being “poor in heart” — which Alma observed that the Zoramites were:

of whom were poor in heart, because of their poverty as to the things of the world.

In their case, worldly poverty had brought them to this “lowliness of heart” state:

And now, as I said unto you, that because ye were compelled to be humble ye were blessed, do ye not suppose that they are more blessed who truly humble themselves because of the word?

Yea, he that truly humbleth himself, and repenteth of his sins, and endureth to the end, the same shall be blessed — yea, much more blessed than they who are compelled to be humble because of their exceeding poverty.

So, Alma describes two options for softening the right-brain-heart:  a person may wait for certain circumstances to bring about a state of humility [or soft ground], which will make him/her open and receptive to the word — or a person may exercise self-motivation by virtue of the power of the word alone [motivated by the promises of the Lord], and give place for that seed on his/her own.

Also, if a person’s circumstances do not cause him/her to be humble and they cannot seem to humble themselves before the Lord, then the Lord provides another tool for a man or woman to obtain the required humility:  fasting and prayer.

Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.

This is how the ancients did it, because this is how it is done.

Continuing one with Alma’s preaching in chapter 32:

behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed,

The seed Alma spoke of was:

the Son of God, that he will come to redeem his people, and that he shall suffer and die to atone for their sins; and that he shall rise again from the dead, which shall bring to pass the resurrection, that all men shall stand before him, to be judged at the last and judgment day, according to their works.

This is the ever-good seed.  Any seed that is planted and persuades a person to believe in and plant this ever-good seed, is also a good seed.  While any seed that is planted and persuades a person not to believe in and plant the ever-good seed, is not a good seed.  None of this has anything to do with religion or churches.  All seeds are judged to be good or evil by how they measure up to the ever-good seed and whether they point people towards, or away from, it:

For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.

Continuing on in Alma 32:

if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord,

Unbelief is equated by Alma with resistance.  Resistance requires effort or work.  It means to oppose with force. The opposite of resisting would be to bow, give in, submit, succumb, surrender, or yield.  All of these words imply a lack of effort or ceasing to work.

As belief is an entirely passive act, any effort whatsoever on a person’s part will stand as an obstacle or impediment to the formula for obtaining faith.  It is like someone pushing you and simply allowing yourself to be pushed — or being in a river that is pushing you downriver and allowing yourself to be carried along.  No effort.  This is belief.

The moment there is resistance [in the slightest degree] to that push, even to just change the direction of travel one inch, it will decrease belief — ultimately turning it into its opposite [disbelief or doubt], which is a state of resistance to the Spirit of the Lord.

behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves — It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.

This is a formula — akin to a scientific equation or cooking recipe.  Following the steps with the outlined ingredients will always produce the same result.  If a person varies one step or another — or rationalizes that a certain step is not required — or puts in some of their own effort into the formula — anything different causes “user error” and faith will not result.

The desire to believe:

But what can a person a person do if he/she is having problems with the formula?  There are certain signs following them that believe.  The purpose of these signs is to give the professed believer [and also the church] a means to discern justified believers in Christ [saints, who possess faith] from non-justified believers in Christ [Christians, who do not possess faith] — this is the fruit by which you may know them.  If one finds that he/she is not able to:

In my name they shall do many wonderful works; In my name they shall cast out devils; In my name they shall heal the sick; In my name they shall open the eyes of the blind, and unstop the ears of the deaf; And the tongue of the dumb shall speak; And if any man shall administer poison unto them it shall not hurt them; And the poison of a serpent shall not have power to harm them.

or

And these signs shall follow them that believe — in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover; And whosoever shall believe in my name, doubting nothing, unto him will I confirm all my words, even unto the ends of the earth.

Then Alma advises that:

But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words

What will “awake and arouse your faculties”?  This was mentioned earlier in describing how to soften the soil:

  • One could be compelled by circumstances to have a desire to believe.
  • One could be motivated by virtue of the promises of the Lord in His word to desire to believe.
  • One could fast and pray until a desire to believe stirs in his/her right-brain-heart.

Again, “let this desire work in you” is the same as being in that river of water that is pushing you downriver, and instead of resisting, just allowing yourself to be carried along.

God’s will is your faith:

God works according to the faith of the children of men — meaning according to the formula outlined above.  Thus, the doctrine of God saving people by virtue of His will and choice is true.  However, that He works according to our faith means that His “choice” cannot be outside the bounds of an agent’s faith.

There is no such thing as something operating solely according to the will of God without the context of our faith.  Things operate solely according to the faith of agents — and this is God’s will.  This is why, for example, when Alma and Amulek were beholding the destruction of the saints by fire — and Amulek says to Alma:

How can we witness this awful scene?  Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us [which power comes by faith], and save them from the flames.

we read that Alma replies:

The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand.

Because Alma and Amulek had the faith to stop the destruction — the Spirit needed to tell them that they should not use their gift because there was a wiser purpose in letting the saints die.  Should it be the case that God’s will can be done without regard for an agent’s faith — then there would have been no purpose in the Spirit telling Alma anything.  Alma would have just stretched forth his hand and watched as the flames kept on burning [Much like what many LDS experience with priesthood healings, etc.].

The principle is that God must act where there is faith, so the Spirit had to tell Alma not extend his hand [not to exercise his faith] so that the destruction would not stop.

Also, there are two examples from Paul.  In 1 Corinthians 14, he gives a command that members of the church who possess the gift of tongues refrain from using their gift in church meetings whenever a member with the gift of interpretation of tongues is not present:

…let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church;

No such instruction would be needed unless the gifts are available to be used at will by those who have faith.  If the gifts worked according to God’s will and choice alone, then the Spirit would simply not manifest tongues in cases when an interpreter was absent — and no one would need instruction from Paul.

Also, in Acts 21, we see Paul in a similar circumstance as Alma and Amulek.  Paul is told twice, through the gift of prophecy, not to go to Jerusalem.  In the wording of the Alma 14 story we could say:  “The Spirit constraineth Paul that he must not go forth unto Jerusalem.

And finding disciples, we tarried [at Tyre] seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.

and

And as we tarried [at Ptolemais] many days, there came down from Judæa a certain prophet, named Agabus.  And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.  And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.

Yet, while Alma and Amulek chose to submit their faith to what the Spirit had told them — Paul chooses otherwise.  Exercising his faith — Paul feels it better to die at Jerusalem for the name of Jesus Christ.  When the people saw that Paul could not be persuaded, they acknowledged that:

The will of the Lord be done.

And His will is done — in these examples and in the example of exercising faith unto salvation.  It is God’s will that people work according to their faith — and His will is done when faith is used.  With respect to salvation, God chooses every person that He has the power to choose — and He only has power where there is faith.  Thus He “chooses” all those who have faith.

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Previous Article by Justin:  The Tribal Church

See also:  The Faith of God Series, FPR post on LDS Cessationism, T&S post on LDS Cessationism, and W&T post on Alma 32