To belong to the chosen generation does not require being born in the last days. It does not require being chosen to be part of the chosen generation. To be a part of the chosen generation requires that we choose to be covenant makers and covenant keepers. That is all that is required to be part of the chosen generation. We make the choice. It is not made for us. This week’s reading assignment talks about what we need to choose to do in order to become, and remain, a member of the chosen generation.
Reading Assignment: 1 and 2 Peter; Jude.
Additional reading: 1 John 3:2–3; 3 Nephi 12:48; Doctrine and Covenants 122:7–8.
Building blocks of righteousness
In 1 Peter 1:2 Peter tells us who becomes the elect of God. The elect of God are those whom God knew before the world was created would come to earth and accept His covenants and live them.
2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
The elect are they who are obedient to the commandments, and so become sanctified by the Holy Ghost and by the blood of Christ (the Atonement). It is to these people that Christ extends the full bounty of His grace, His enabling and strengthening power. It is to these that God’s peace is generously given (multiplied).
To those who are obedient to the covenants offered by God, Christ’s mercy adopts or begets us as His sons and daughters. He becomes to us our spiritual Father, he who shows us the way home and teaches us, corrects us, chastises us, and loves us as a parent. Here are the next three verses:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Because of Christ’s mercy in adopting us as His sons and daughters, we can have a lively (a living) hope of an incorruptible inheritance in heaven. We will be kept and protected by the power of God because of our faith in the salvation God has revealed to us.
The building blocks of righteousness include faith in Christ and obedience to His commandments. To these, the Lord adopts us as His sons and daughters and adds our personal purification through the Spirit, forgiveness because of the Atoning sacrifice of Christ, and the gifts of grace and peace. Once we have experienced these gifts from God we begin to have a living hope in our promised resurrection.
The value of faith
In 1 Peter 1:7 Peter compares faith and gold by saying that faith is more valuable than even purified gold. This is an interesting comparison since gold is physical and faith is spiritual. Is he comparing apples to oranges? I don’t think so. Gold represents that which is one of the most valued substances on earth. Because of its versatility and value it has come to represent materialism, the love of and the desire for things in this life. It represents power and influence. Gold can, in sufficient quantities, buy almost anything in this world, including people.
Unfortunately, gold also is confined to this world. Once we leave this world we also leave behind all our gold and whatever influence or power it gave us. Faith, on the other hand, is an eternal principle of power. We can personally develop as much faith as we want, without limit. As a principle of power, faith changes us for the better. It creates greater ability to do the things the Lord would have us do. Faith is the catalyst or trigger that changes our belief in what God tells us into knowledge that what God tells us is true. It is, if you will, the goose that lays the golden egg. Faith never stops producing spiritual power unless we stop using it.
When Peter compares faith and gold, faith is the clear winner. Faith produces that which purifies the soul in this life and guarantees eternity with God in the next life. Gold and what it can offer us is a poor substitute for what faith can give us. We fall for the gold only when we don’t understand or we forget that we have given up substance for temporary glamor. The comforts of gold and all that it represents in mortality are fleeting and easily taken away. Once obtained, the blessings and rewards that come from gaining faith can never be taken from us by any outside source. We can willingly give up all that faith has taught us and done for us, but no one can take it away from us.
Obtaining our calling and election
To be part of the chosen generation, we must be covenant makers and covenant keepers. Faith is more precious to us than gold, but to what end? The purpose of the covenants and the building of faith is for us to be working on obtaining our calling and election. To have our calling and election made sure is to have proven ourselves to the Lord that we will be obedient in any and all circumstances. If we have been thoroughly proven then the Lord can give us the assurance that we have been sufficiently faithful and He promises us our place at His side when we leave mortality.
To aid us in our quest to obtain this assurance Peter gives the Saints a list of virtues or attributes that all Saints should be working to add to their own character. These attributes of the divine character are spelled out in 2 Peter 1:4 – 7. Basically, he says that once we have escaped the punishments of the worldly character that come from living by the lusts of the flesh we need to add these things to our character or we may as well go back to our old sins. As he puts it, “he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.”
Starting with the basic characteristic of faith we need to add virtue, which is purity of thought. To virtue, we need to add knowledge (after all, we cannot be saved in ignorance). To our knowledge, we need to add temperance, which is self-control or self-restraint in our passions and appetites. Exercising self-restraint in all things will teach us patience, which the Lord requires we learn in large amounts. To our patience, we need to add godliness, which is reverence. Finally, when we have learned these attributes, we are ready for charity, which is the pure love of God.
Peter goes on in verse seven to tell us that if we abound in all these characteristics that we will also be fruitful of the knowledge of “our Lord Jesus Christ.” Without these characteristics, we are “blind, and cannot see afar off.” To be wise in spiritual things requires us to be able to think and feel as Christ thinks and feels. Without this ability, we really are flying blind. This is why we are encouraged to seek to be partakers of the divine nature.
Do not be deceived. To become a member of the chosen generation requires us to accept and live the covenants offered by our Father in Heaven. Once accepted, and in the process of living those covenants, we need to go to work learning how to incorporate the qualities of the divine nature into who we are. This takes work and forethought. We won’t be saved in the celestial kingdom by accident or just because we got baptized or went through the temple. There is serious work that needs to be done in order to receive our calling and election. Please note that people do receive their calling and election in this life, but it is something so sacred that it is never discussed by those who have received it. So don’t go looking for member lists as to who has received this sacred assurance. You won’t find anything. For most of us we just need to be faithful and endure to the end. We will receive the promised reward after this life.
The important part is that we are working on it. The Lord knows our hearts, and we will be judged on the thoughts and intents of our hearts. He will be merciful to those who are actively striving to develop the characteristics of the divine nature. We may be slower than some others in the process, but the important part is that we are still in the process. As long as we never give up trying we will not fail.