A Gem from General Conference: Divine Aid

Here are some favorite words from LDS general conference yesterday. The speaker is Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). And we do not need to achieve some minimum level of capacity or goodness before God will help. Divine aid can be ours every hour of every day, no matter where we are in the path of obedience. But I know that, beyond desiring his help, we must exert ourselves, repent, and choose God, for him to be able to act in our lives consistent with justice and moral agency. (bold added)

I also enjoyed these quotations he used . . .

Short Take: Agency and the Alternative, Part Two

Author’s Note

(Continued from February’s newsletter.)

We often assume that Lucifer’s alternative to our Father’s plan was to compel everyone to do good, so that all might be saved. But there are other ways to damage or destroy agency, which the Lord said was Lucifer’s aim (Moses 4:3).

One way is removing consequences by saving everyone, no matter what they do – saving the people in their sins (Alma 11:34-37). Brigham Young and Orson Pratt taught (Journal of Discourses 13:282; 21:287-89) that this was Lucifer’s meaning when he promised, “One soul shall not be lost” (Moses 4:1).

His argument would have been quite seductive: “You, Father, profess to love your children, but your plan will save only the elect few. Most mortals will be too weak to win the rewards you offer. My plan is more loving, more merciful, and more just: I will save them all, whatever they may do.”

In truth, nearly everyone will rise to greater eternal glory than Lucifer could offer. And God is raising divine children, not feckless rabble. But the ultimate answer to the destroyer’s arguments is Jesus Christ. He is the guarantee and embodiment of our possibilities. He is the perfect assurance that justice, which cannot be robbed, will nonetheless be tempered with divine, abundant mercy. In him is the power and the will to save each soul to the limit of that soul’s desire to be saved.

Short Take: Agency and the Alternative

Author’s Note

We’re taught of a premortal grand council (Joseph Smith used the term), where all of our Heavenly Father’s spirit children learned his plan and chose whether to press forward with Jehovah or to rebel with Lucifer. (See Job 38:7.) I could be wrong, but I cannot imagine so consequential a choice being required of us in the same meeting where we first heard of the plan. Agency itself, to say nothing of justice, required that we understand and ponder the plan and its implications before choosing our path irrevocably. So I imagine the grand council as the culmination of many meetings in which we listened, discussed, and asked countless questions. (This level of knowledge left ample room for faith in Christ, in part because his atoning sacrifice and resurrection were not yet accomplished.)

Some thought they knew better than God. This era of instruction provided time and opportunity for them to develop their arguments, preach their principles, and consolidate support among their spirit siblings. The war in heaven (Revelation 12:7-8) was a war between their ideas and God’s. When Lucifer formally offered his alternative in the grand council – save everyone, and he gets the glory (see Moses 4:1-4) – a significant fraction of spirits likely were already firmly in his camp and prepared to rebel with him.

(To be continued.)

Short Take: 2 Nephi 2

Author’s Note

I once heard Elder Jeffrey R. Holland say that, if you could keep only one chapter in the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 2 would be the chapter to choose. It explains moral agency and shows it in its central role, connecting it to the fall and the atonement. Agency is the power inherent in all human souls to choose between good and evil, knowing which is which, and understanding that moral choices come with consequences.

Here Lehi also teaches something most of the religious world does not yet understand: The fall of Adam and Eve was no accident or surprise. It was part of God’s plan. Its ultimate results, because of the atonement, are life and joy: “Adam fell that men might be, and men are that they might have joy. And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed . . . they have become free forever, knowing good from evil. . . . And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life . . . or to choose captivity and death” (2 Nephi 2:25-27).