Notes for my writing

This blog is made up of notes on the gospel as found in the only true and living church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This includes notes that are either excerpts from or ideas for books I either have in draft or may yet write.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Being blessed on condition of obedience is different than earning and deserving all we recieve

The scriptures plainly teach that when any man receives a blessing from God it is by obedience to that law upon which the blessing was predicated.

And if you try to teach that, someone is going to object. 

The will mock you saying we don't earn our spiritual blessings. The will say that we can't do works that make it so that we deserve to be saved. They will say we can't earn our salvation through our works.

But they are just knocking down a straw man. 

Gaining salvation by receiving blessings predicated on obedience to law is very different than earning our salvation or deserving our salvation. 

There is an enormous gap, a great distance, between what we actually earn and deserve for our works, and what God has, by his very merciful and generous laws, said he will bestow upon us.

When I bow on my knees and close my eyes and attempt to speak to God, what have I earned? Not much. What I have earned is the direct physical consequence of my actions - namely that some sound emanates from my mouth if I said the prayer out loud.

But what generous blessings has the Lord been willing to pour out in response to that action? Has he not granted great miracles in response to prayer?

We do not earn, nor deserve, our salvation. The blessings God grants are overly generous and full of mercy. 

At the same time, his blessings are all conditioned on our obedience.

Gaining blessings by obedience to law is different than earning and deserving those blessings, because the laws are set by a generous and merciful God.

I do an act of service for someone, and I feel light and truth in my soul. Everyone experiences that. But did they earn that light and truth, that feeling of edification? No. What they earned by their work was simply that the service itself was accomplished. The feeling of edification and joy was an overly merciful and generous gift given by a loving God. At the same time, did they gain that edification it by obedience to eternal law? Yes. They obeyed law and had the overly generous and merciful blessings predicated on that law poured out in response. 

We must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. But that doesn't mean that we earned, or deserved salvation. We do not deserve, or earn, the overly merciful gifts that God bestows.

We have faith, repent, and get baptized for the remission of sins. Then we are given the gift of the Holy Ghost. Did we earn the gift of the Holy Ghost? Not even close. It is a merciful and generous gift. It is far above what we have earned or deserved. But did we gain it by obedience to eternal law? Yes we did.

What we can obtain as a generous blessing given mercifully for obeying eternal law is far and above what we actually earn and deserve. This is the generosity and mercy of a loving God: That his laws bestow divine gifts that are merciful and overly generous, and that are frankly outside of man's power to obtain in response to works of obedience to his divine laws. What man can force the Holy Ghost to come? None can. The Holy Ghost is a God, and will go where he pleases. Yet the Holy Ghost will descend on a man in response to a man's obedience. That is simply outside a man's power. Man cannot force a God to let his presence fall on a man. It is a merciful and loving gift of something that is outside man's power, in response to obedience to God's law.

When we decide that, because there is a law set, and a blessing attached to obeying that law, then we must have earned and deserved whatever we obtain by obeying that law, we are simply giving way to false pride and denying the merciful nature of our God.

It seems that with us you could offer to pay a man a million dollars a day, and he would be grateful for the first month. But give him six months with such wages and he will decide he earned and deserved such a rich reward just because that was the price that was set. In his pride he forgets that the reward was far, far more than what he rightly earned or deserved. It was merciful and generous.

And when we think of receiving such marvelous manifestations as answers to our prayers, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and baptism, and the temple endowments, we may be tempted to give way to pride and think we deserved them and earned them. But no, we did not. We obeyed the law and obtained the prize, but the law was set by a merciful and generous God and its rewards for obedience are far better than millions of dollars, but far more unattainable by the power of mankind.

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