God’s behavior is not all mystery and miracles. Many of His behaviors are predictable, because there is evidence of them throughout the scriptures and in the writings of the prophets.
In this installment in the series on the patterns we see in the behaviors of God, we look at the connection between God’s law of restoration and His commandment we call the golden rule. On the surface these doctrines may seem unrelated, but they are, in fact, inseparable in plan of salvation.
The law of restoration and the golden rule can be stated in many ways. The golden rule is almost another way of saying restoration, but not quite. Simply put, the golden rule is to do unto others as you would want them to do to you. Restoration is the actual application of the golden rule applied to our final judgment once mortality is over. Though there are big similarities to restoration and the golden rule, let’s look first at their differences.
The Golden Rule
The origin of the golden rule is found in Luke 6:31.
31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
The concept for the golden rule is easy to understand. Treat others the way you want to be treated. So don’t go yelling at people unless you are prepared to have them yell back. But this verse is about more than just setting up a tit for tat world. In large measure, that was the way life was during the Law of Moses. This is where we hear about an eye for an eye. They lived the golden rule in the very literal manner. Jesus continues his lesson on how we should act by defining the kind of behavior he is really talking about. He points out that even sinners can be kind to other sinners and love those who love them (Luke 6:32-33).
32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
If you want the behavior to have everlastingly good effects, the rule of kindness to others must be applied to those who don’t do it in return. In verse 35 Jesus tells us that the higher law refers to doing good to others as you would have them do it unto you, even when you know they won’t return your good behavior in kind. Now that is some tough doctrine.
35 But ye your enemies, and do good, and , hoping for nothing again; and your shall be great, and ye shall be the of the Highest: for he is kind unto the and to the evil.
Applying something like the golden rule to everyone, not just those who will behave likewise in return, is what makes this a celestial doctrine. For another example of where the Savior taught this same principle look at Matthew 5:45.
45 That ye the of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth on the just and on the unjust.
This is proof that God lives the golden rule, and He lives it in a celestial way. He blesses both the righteous and the wicked. Too often we think that God is anxious to punish the wicked, but He is, in fact, not. He wants to give them as much opportunity to repent and change as possible before judgement has to be passed on their behavior. The Lord blesses us as soon as we do something good. We don’t always see how the blessing we receive is connected with a good deed, behavior, or attitude, but He promises us immediate blessings for keeping His commandments. King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon puts it this way in Mosiah 2:24.
24 And secondly, he doth that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?
We often take for granted that when we do good, more good flows from it. But what about that part of the golden rule where the Lord blesses the wicked as well as the righteous? Consider this – we have already read where He sends the rains and the sun on both the wicked and the righteous. But what about God’s forbearance towards us when we commit sin? Remember that all sin is an affront to God’s commandments, since they bring us sorrow and suffering. Christ suffered that we would not have to suffer, yet each time we commit sin we basically rub Christ’s nose in it by declaring that we don’t care what he had to suffer on our behalf, we would rather suffer for our own sins. That saddens him to no end.
God seems to be quick to bless us for doing good, as we have already read. But what about his punishments for our sins? How quickly does He jump in there to punish us for our disobedience and willfulness? If you think about the patterns you see in the scriptures, God defers punishing the wicked until He simply cannot defer it any longer. This is where we hear the term “ripe in iniquity.” He doesn’t destroy the wicked until they have driven the Spirit, and hence the hope of repentance, so far from them that it is no longer possible for them to repent. Once someone is ripe in their iniquities there is nothing in heaven or earth that could persuade them to look to Christ for forgiveness. At that point in their life they have wholly given themselves over to Satan and think only evil things from morning until night. It is only when people have reached this point that the Lord destroys them, removing them from their remaining time in mortality. He waits for them to repent and find joy until they have proven that they absolutely have no desire to find the happiness He offers before He passes the ultimate judgment on them in mortality.
Recap of the golden rule
So doing to others as we would want them to do to us isn’t enough. We must be willing to live this way with both the wicked and the righteous. We must learn to do good to and for those we either suspect or know won’t return our behavior in kind. AND we can’t hold it against them either! Jesus has been very clear about that fact. Judgment is the Lords, and we must forgive all men, always. Period.
The principles behind living the golden rule are found throughout the scriptures. They are stated in many ways and under many situations and examples. But the underlying principle of love and forgiveness remain unchanged in every instance and example.
Most of my life I have thought of the final judgment as a court case that is presented to God in the day of judgment then His sentence is passed and off the defendant goes to whatever reward was earned by his/her behavior during mortality. It wasn’t until just a few years ago that the word restore kept popping up in the scriptures, interrupting my perception of how the judgment day is supposed to be handled.
The laws of mankind tend to lead to a verdict of either guilty or not guilty. This is pretty black and white thinking. It is also a very simple way of looking at the judgment bar of God. Either you pass the test and are found worthy of heaven or you don’t. Pretty easy to comprehend.
The Lord has promised that all that has been revealed in the past will be made available in the future. This is known as the restitution of all things. This includes priesthood covenants, doctrines, and knowledge of spiritual things. Much has been lost to apostasy, which has happened over and over again throughout history. At some point all that has been lost will be given back to us as part of the restitution of all things.
To restore is to bring back that which was lost, or to put things back into their original condition. This doesn’t sound anything like the judgment day does it? It sure didn’t to me. But I kept reading these scriptures in the Book of Mormon that describe the judgement of God as a day of restitution, a restoration to us of the blessing or punishment we have earned by our behavior in this life. Here are some examples of what I am talking about.
Alma 40 makes reference to the resurrection as a restoration of the condition of the body and spirit – meaning a reuniting of the body and spirit – after their separation at death. Alma 40 uses the word soul instead of the word we use, which is spirit. They are the same thing.
22 Yea, this bringeth about the restoration of those things of which has been spoken by the mouths of the prophets.
23 The shall be to the , and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and frame.
24 And now, my son, this is the restoration of which has been by the mouths of the prophets—
25 And then shall the shine forth in the kingdom of God.
In these verses we are taught that the Lord doesn’t leave any messes behind. When we are resurrected, the condition of our reunited spirit and body will be perfect. We won’t be missing anything that a fully functional body is supposed to have. All the parts will be present and accounted for.
In response to his own statements about the restoration of the body and soul, Alma continues to discuss this concept of restoration in chapter 41. Verse two further explains how this restoration works.
2 I say unto thee, my son, that the plan of restoration is requisite with the justice of God; for it is requisite that all things should be restored to their proper order. Behold, it is requisite and just, according to the power and resurrection of Christ, that the soul of man should be restored to its body, and that every of the body should be restored to itself.
This verse presents us with an important concept. It tells us that having all things restored to their native state is requisite (or required) with the justice of God. He then applies this same concept of restoration to how the judgment itself is going to be applied to us. Here is Alma 41:3-7. I have added underlining for emphasis.
3 And it is requisite with the of God that men should be according to their ; and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be . unto that which is good
4 And if their works are evil they shall be . Therefore, unto them for evilall things shall be , every thing to its natural frame— to their proper order raised to , to incorruption—raised to happiness to the kingdom of God, or to endless misery to inherit the kingdom of the devil, the one on one hand, the other on the other—
5 The one raised to according to his desires of happiness, or good according to his desires of good; and the other to evil according to his desires of evil; for as he has desired to do evil all the day long even so shall he have his reward of evil when the night cometh.
6 And so it is on the other hand. If he hath repented of his sins, and desired righteousness until the end of his days, even so he shall be rewarded unto righteousness.
7 are they that are redeemed of the Lord; yea, these are they that are taken out, that are delivered from that endless night of darkness; and thus they stand or fall; for behold, they are their own , whether to do good or do evil.
These verses teach us that the final day of judgment isn’t a prosecution to see if the law was either met or defiled. Instead we are going to be judged on our desires and behaviors. Either our desires and behaviors will demonstrate to the Lord that goodness is what is in our heart, or they will demonstrate that we prefer evil over good. Whatever condition our soul is in when the day of judgment comes, we will be restored in the resurrection to that state. And that state is based on our choices. In other words, we are our own judges. We choose whether we want eternal life or eternal damnation. This choice is made with every decision we make to do good, to think good, or to have good attitudes.
I always thought of the judgment as something that would be placed upon my soul. These verses show me that I choose my own judgment, for I am ultimately in control of my behavior and my attitudes. This also tells me that anyone can qualify for whatever blessings they want, because it is only a matter of desire. Yes, I know we have to put into practice all the commandments, but no amount of shortcomings or limitations can prevent us from obeying the commandments if that is the true desire of our heart, just as no amount of advantage and privilege in this life can keep me from sinning away my salvation if that is the desire of my heart.
Two sides of the coin
The restoration that takes place in the day of judgment is the final outcome of how we choose to live the golden rule. They, like the sides of a coin, cannot be separated. How we choose to live the two great commandments, to love God and to love our neighbor as our self is what will determine the kind of resurrected body that will be restored to us in the day of judgment.
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