free to choose
Week 06 is scheduled for study Feb. 5-11, 2024. Are we really free to choose eternal life or eternal death? Yes, we are. And is it really as simple as following Christ to become exalted? Yes, it is.

Day 1

2 Nephi 1:13-29 – I can “awake! and arise from the dust.”

I love the figurative language of the scriptures. Figurative language transcends the times in which we live, for it relies on imagery to convey its meaning. Examples of figurative language include the words light and dark. To have a dark countenance or to wander in the dark refers to being spiritually ignorant or misled. When we have a light countenance or are walking in the light we are using truth as our guide. Truth “lights” our way so we can see things as they truly are. We make better choices and are happier.

This same principle of using figurative language extends to being asleep or awake. To be spiritually asleep, to slumber, is to be languishing in a dream world that is not real. Those who are spiritually asleep are not doing good, not improving themselves, and are not finding happiness in their life, because truth is evading them. But when we “awake” and realize that we have been missing out on the truth of God’s gospel, and then embrace those truths, it is like someone has turned on a light in an otherwise darkened room. Everything is illuminated and clearer to our vision. We see things, comprehend things differently, and like those who see color for the first time, the experience is joyous to the soul.

It is silly to imagine that someone who is discovering the truth about life for the first time would just lie on their back and not do anything about it. No, that person gets up and gets moving and doing things differently in their life. This is the image the scriptural phrase means to “awake! and arise from the dust.” It’s time to get moving and doing, and not languishing in spiritual darkness any longer. It is that connection of the physical image and the spiritual image that makes such statements so intriguing.

The gospel of Christ focuses on the action of doing what we know to be true. The more we know the more the Lord expects behavioral changes from us. Advancement in the gospel isn’t about just awareness, but about doing something about the awareness we have achieved. The Lord has made it very clear that those who don’t do something about what they have already received will have that which they have received taken from them. We are all going to be judged on not just what we have learned, but what we have done with what we have learned. Action is vital to putting into practice the knowledge we have discovered. To receive the blessings of the gospel requires us to live/do what we have learned. No action, no blessings. It’s pretty simple.

Day 2

2 Nephi 2 – Because of Jesus Christ, I am “free to choose liberty and eternal life.”

The manual has some wonderful questions and activities to engage in for today’s lesson. I recommend you do what is in the manual. If you would like my thoughts on this chapter I wrote an article that is two fold on the subject of 2 Nephi 2. The first half of the article explains the plan of salvation and how it works, using the doctrines found in this chapter. The second half of the article goes verse by verse and talks about what Lehi is teaching – all 30 verses. Spoiler Alert! The article is much longer than my usual offerings. Plan on taking a while to get through it. It may only be about 12 pages long, but there is a lot to consider in those pages. Happy hunting! 2 Nephi 2 – An Explanation of the Plan of Salvation

Day 3

2 Nephi 2:1-4, 6-25 – God can turn my trials into blessings.

Let’s look at verse 2.

Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.

After I read the lesson material and thought about what the manual is pointing out to us, something occurred to me. Look at the last part of the verse – “and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.” My thought was “Why?” Does the Lord always consecrate our trials and suffering for our gain, or in other words our good? No, He doesn’t. So what is the difference here that Lehi promised Jacob that his experiences would be turned into blessings by God?

If I suffer and don’t learn anything from my suffering, meaning I don’t turn to God and ask for help to learn how to patiently and wisely deal with my experience, then I am just suffering. Nothing more. The point of mortality is to be tried and tested. In Abraham 3:25 we read,

25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;

God always challenges us to prove Him to see if He will do as He has promised us. By the same token He is constantly proving or testing us to see if we will turn to Him and seek to be like our Savior. When we do that God opens our eyes to truths, coping skills, and improved character traits that can bring us peace and tranquility, even in the midst of hardship. A big part of our proving process is to see if we learn the art of complete dependence on the Lord. Learning to exercise faith in His love for us and His willingness to help us in times of need can change us for the better in so many ways.

Lehi tells us in this chapter that Jacob, even in his extreme youth, has already been visited by Christ, and hence has already been redeemed. So it makes sense that God will help Jacob by turning his trials into blessings in his life, because Jacob has already learned to rely on God in all his doings. What about us? Are we suffering through the hardships of life, just to experience the suffering, or are we taking our difficult times and leaning on the Lord for support so He can teach us lessons that will exalt us and raise us above our current conditions, bringing us peace and harmony, even in the depths of our suffering?

Day 4

2 Nephi 2:15-29 – The Fall and the Atonement of Jesus Christ are essential parts of Heavenly Father’s plan.

After you read the lesson manual for today’s lesson, and have digested the contents of Elder Dallin H. Oaks’ talk, I recommend you read the following article.

The Fall and Atonement, Step By Step

The purpose of the article linked to here is to show how these two events were necessary that they happen together, for they could not happen apart from each other. There is no purpose in a Fall if an Atonement will not then be made to save everyone from the conditions brought about by the Fall. And the same is true for the Atonement. It is a pointless act if there is no price that needs to be paid for. This is why I refer to the Fall and the Atonement of Christ as the two sides of the same coin. They have to come as a pair of events. Neither could work without the other.

Personal Study

Bridging the gap

I want to reference two subjects from the Ideas for Teaching Children section. First – God gave me the freedom to choose. Second – Jesus Christ helps me overcome the effects of sin.

We already discussed earlier this week the fact that God has given us the agency we need to make our choices for whatever glory we want in the next life. We are not required to return to live with our Father in Heaven. If godhood is not our thing, and it seems like just too much work then there are other places we can live for eternity than in God’s presence. These other places will make us feel far more comfortable than being in the great Law giver’s presence.

If, on the other hand, the blessings and glories of being a god inspire me and make me want to become the best version of myself then making and keeping covenants is where I can go to fulfill my desires. This is the whole focus of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We are the only church on the earth with the priesthood of God and the ability to make and keep sacred covenants that lead to godhood. Many people will be good people, but will never achieve exaltation, because they didn’t want to make covenants that enable that to happen.

The point here is that God gives us exactly what we desire. There are even a select few who having upheld God’s plan in the premortal life get into mortality and find that they really preferred Satan’s view on things. These people fully reject all that God stands for and will share the fate of Satan and his followers in the afterlife. God really will give us what we want, either eternal life – to live with God again, or eternal death – to live separated from God forever. He offers the same blessings and opportunities to all of His children then let’s each of us decide how much of the offered blessings we are willing to receive.

For those of us who choose to live with God again, God has given us a Savior to show us the way. We cannot return to live with God without fully relying on Christ and the example he set for us during his mortal ministry. We must learn to rely on Christ and obey his commandments. This is the one and only path God has given us if we want to return to His presence. There is no alternative path back to God. He has made this very simple by removing all options that might confuse us and cause us to be tripped up by any complexities. Follow Christ if you want to come home. Simple.

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BoM06-2024 – Free to Choose