Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Commandment for Your Salvation

In the 38th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord gives a commandment to the Church that he describes as "for your salvation." This great commandment is prefaced by reminders that the Lord created all things, has all of time in view and successfully accomplished the magnificent Atonement for all men. He reminds us that he is in our midst and that we will see him when the veil is rent, that he is no respecter of persons, and that we must become one if we are to be his people. The Lord teaches us that this commandment will be necessary to send forth missionaries with power from on high, to be adequately prepared for the wars and trials to come, and to be "a righteous people, without spot and blameless." If this commandment of the Lord is successfully obeyed, the Lord covenants that he will give a land flowing with milk and honey to the Saints for an inheritance.

What is this great commandment that is so necessary to the salvation of the Saints at this time?

A few days before the relatively grand promises of Section 38 were given, a smaller, less grand revelation was given that is now recorded as Section 37. In it, the Lord commands that the church should "assemble together at the Ohio". The Lord reveals in Section 38 that all of the great things mentioned are tied to obedience to the earlier, smaller commandment:

Wherefore, for this cause I gave unto you the commandment that ye should go to the Ohio; and there I will give unto you my law; and there you shall be endowed with power from on high (v. 32).

Of course, with hindsight we know that Kirtland, Ohio, would be the site of the first temple in this dispensation. The Lord would appear in the Kirtland Temple, as would Noah, Elijah, Moses and others, and many essential doctrines, ordinances, and priesthood keys would be restored there. Moving to Ohio, it turns out, was huge for the salvation of the Saints and all who have followed them.

At the time, however, this commandment may have seemed irrelevant, insignificant, and not possibly related to salvation in the kingdom of God. After all, what does moving to Ohio have to do with baptism, or priesthood, or the Atonement? Surely Abraham never had to move to Ohio-- perhaps this commandment is, then, optional, right? Even with the associated commands in this revelation to be prepared, unified, gathered, and esteem all men equally-- the Saints could do that in New York, where they were. It seems that it may have been easy to wonder why the Lord wouldn't ask them to do those things without leaving homes, farms, prosperity and even family behind.

However irrelevant it may have seemed, the commandment was to move to Ohio. The early church obeyed the Lord, and the Kirtland Temple and its many associated revelations and restorations was the result of their obedience. The blessings of their obedience are present in our lives today as well-- we have temple marriages, we are sealed to our families past and present, we are sending missionaries throughout the world that are endowed with power from on high, and we are learning to become a prepared and unified people, even as the Church spreads across the world.

Like the commandment to move to Ohio, sometimes we may be given inspiration or direction for our salvation that may seem unimportant or irrelevant at the time. Perhaps that direction relates to where we will live, which job we will take, whether we will attend a university or what we will study. Perhaps we will be guided to go on a mission, to have another child, to accept foster children into our home or to befriend or fellowship a neighbor, coworker or someone in our ward. Still yet, maybe it will seem even smaller and less significant than any of these options-- but we feel we should do it.

How we respond to the promptings of the Holy Ghost is, in every case, relevant for our salvation. Remember that the Lord, "gave unto [man] that he should be an agent unto himself; and I gave unto commandment, but no temporal commandment gave I unto him, for my commandments are spiritual" (D&C 29:35). We must be prepared to obey whatever the Lord commands, whenever he commands it, trusting that "all things are present before [his] eyes". As we do so, the Lord will plead before the Father for us to our salvation and grant us all the promised blessings for our obedience.

1 comment:

  1. I was impressed by verse 7 as well: "Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you that mine eyes are upon you. I am in your midst and ye cannot see me; But the day soon cometh that ye shall see me, and know that I am;"

    It reminds me first of all of the promise I experienced on my mission: "I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up."

    It also reminded me of President Uchtdorf's conference talk from October 1, 2011, when he outlined the grandness of the universe before stating that we are not forgotten to the Lord. As he made that comment, I felt its truth. I felt the love of God-- and I know that we are not forgotten.

    Most of all, I take great courage at the Lord's statement that he is in our midst. I believe that sometimes he is with me-- watching over me and helping me to achieve things that I have thought difficult, painful or beyond my ability. I believe he is present in all of our lives-- and thus familiar with our struggles, triumphs, disappointments and rejoicing.

    Looking forward, if the Lord is among us, we ought to be able to accomplish anything. With his help, perhaps at times shoulder to shoulder, there is nothing that can hinder our righteous efforts-- so we (I) ought to get to work.