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Home Scripture Jesus Atonement The Great Checkmate

Atonement The Great Checkmate

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(C) Copyright 1998 By Massimo Franceschini all the rights reserved.

As we have seen, in my article entitled, "The Faith and free agency", in Revelation 12 we see that before our life here on earth, there was a war in Heaven. We also know for certain that the issue of free agency was the basis of this war and that Satan is still trying to implement his plan on this earth. What we didn't discuss in that article was what was the plan of God?

His main purpose is clearly set forth in Moses 1:39 "For behold, this is my work and my glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." Thus, our Father's plan had two goals in mind, which can be restated as salvation and exaltation. These are not the same things, and we must keep in mind their differences when we look at what God is trying to do with us.

When Adam was driven out of the Garden of Eden, death came in the world. This was not only a spiritual death, whereby man became excluded from the presence of God, causing him to become carnal, sensual and devilish It was also a very real death, that caused a physical change in man's body whereby he literally perished physically. Both of these conditions (spiritual and physical death) made man more susceptible to the direct attacks of the Devil.

As such, man needed something that would help him remain in contact with the Lord and to receive further light and knowledge from God. Our first and primary line of defense against the Devil is prayer, through which we can receive divine revelation from the Holy Ghost. By this means, even though we are far away from the presence of the Lord both physically and spiritually, mankind can receive God's help and guidance to withstand Satan's assault on our salvation and exaltation.

This light and knowledge we receive through prayer is necessary to the plan of God in order for Him to bring man back to his original and natural position in the celestial family, because the battle that we won in our premortal life was only the beginning of a great war, not the end. The battlefield has moved from the throne of heaven to our mortal life here on earth. That is why prayer is so very important. Without it we are like soldiers fighting  without any leadership.

Just like in the game of chess, all of our moves must be designed to help us checkmate our opponent. However, to do this we continually have to keep our mind on following a very good strategy. And part of that strategy is to make sure that our opponent doesn't know our plan, otherwise he could change his strategy to counter our moves.

It goes without saying that the Lord has a very good strategy for checkmating His opponent, Satan. Furthermore, we learn in Moses 4:6: "And Satan put it into the heart of the serpent, (for he had drawn away many after him,) and he sought also to beguile Eve, for he knew not the mind of God, wherefore he sought to destroy the world." From this scripture, it's plain that Satan doesn't know what God's strategy is.

In the game of chess, sometimes it's necessary to suddenly and unexpectedly sacrifice an important piece in order to gain an advantageous position. Usually when a great chess player sacrifices one of his pieces, it is at a point where his opponent can't refuse to take it. Sometime the opponent is bewildered by why the piece was sacrificed, and may suspect it was for a good reason, but not understanding what that reason is, he nevertheless gleefully takes the piece, thinking he has gained a great prize.

I firmly believe that in the plan of God, when He sacrificed His greatest piece, Jesus Christ, Satan felt exactly that way. We must remember that the Devil was doing all he could to encourage the Israelites to crucify Jesus. When his plan seemingly worked, he must have been bewildered. He must have gleefully, but cautiously thought to himself, "Did I actually thwart God's plan?" He didn't understand what God was doing, so, not knowing what the strategy was, he must have thought he had achieve a great victory in Christ's death.

But, like an over-confident player, after the resurrection of Jesus, he suddenly realized his mistake. Rather than taking out his opponent's most valuable piece and being assured of victory, he suddenly found himself in the most desperate situation of the game. If Satan had only understood the consequences of what the death of Christ meant, he would have made sure that Jesus lived to be a very old man and then died a very natural death. That would have robbed God of Christ's atoning blood. Instead, by his very own actions, Satan had just assured the salvation of all of mankind. We can only imagine how furious the Devil must have been with himself.

When a good player realizes he has lost, he knocks down his king and concedes the game to his opponent. A bad player does just the opposite. He doesn't' admit his failure and continues playing the game, knowing there is no hope for victory. His only purpose then becomes to kill as many of
his opponent's pieces as he can. The Devil is that kind of a player. He stubbornly refuses to admit defeat, even after he's been defeated. We are now the object of the Devil's wrath. As Peter warned us, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8).

After the death of Jesus Christ the game was won, but the Lord knew Satan wouldn't be satisfied with the outcome, therefore He had to find a way to keep His children safe from the rage of the Devil. It must be firmly kept in mind that we are not talking about imaginary chess pieces. We're talking about real people, and real death. For God, we're talking about His literal offspring. So, even though He has positioned Himself in a way that it is impossible for Satan to win, He still gives each person a way to defend their own life.

We're told in Ephesians 6:11-18 "Put on the whole armoire of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places]. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints."

At this point I want to analyze the Atonement, which I like to refer to as the great checkmate because it was the decisive move of the game. Another reason for me analyzing it is to observe how clever the sacrifice of Christ was.

To begin with, we must go back to Eve in the garden of Eden. She was the one who actually produced the fall, but did it in a way where she was not the only person involved. In 1 Timothy 2:14-15 we read, "And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety."

Eve was the first to transgress the commandment of God, but she was deceived or tricked into doing it, so she was not completely to blame for her actions. At the time she was deceived, she was innocent because she didn't know the difference between good and evil. This is evident because God cursed the serpent, not the woman. (Keep this in mind because later we will see how important this is). It's true that Eve received a punishment for her transgression but the punishment of a loving father always contains a blessing .

What was her punishment? We read in Genesis 3:16: "Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire [shall be] to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." Eve had already received the gift to procreate, (apparently without pain). Her punishment was that now pain would be introduced into the process of birth.

In addition to this, we must remember that originally Eve had been created specifically to be a support for Adam. However, in the incident with Satan, it was Eve who convinced Adam to be disobedient to God's commandment. As a direct result of that advice, the right to rule was given to Adam. (I'm sure that it had already been decided long before the earth was created, to give the priesthood to the man, but here we see a reason to add this right. I won't make any more comment on this aspect of the fall because it doesn't pertain to the topic we're discussing but thought it was necessary to point out.)

The scriptures clearly teach that Adam was not deceived. He deliberately made a decision to do what was necessary. As it says in 2 Nephi 2:25: "Adam fell that men might be." It was no doubt for this reason that Paul in his counsel in 1Timothy 2:12-15 said: "But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression."

As I said earlier, with every punishment, there is also a blessing. What was the blessing in this punishment? We learn from 1 Timothy 2:15, "Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety." The punishment was that Eve
and all women would have great pain in bringing forth children, but the blessing is "SHE WILL BE SAVED IN CHILDBEARING." As such, the suffering caused by the delivery is overshadowed by the blessing contained in the punishment. And this blessing is connected to the great plan of God.

What happened to the serpent? In Genesis 3:14 we learn: "And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou [art] cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life." This was his curse, but listen to the next verse! "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."

The serpent deceived the woman and caused her to fall, but the woman would have her revenge on the serpent. Through the pain of delivery would come her Savior to redeem her from her fallen condition! The Devil has the power to hurt mankind, but mankind through one of Eve's sons (the Savior) the serpent will be bruised.

We have to remember that the power to procreate came as a direct result of Eve's disobedience, which was caused by Satan himself. Thus, by not knowing the will of the Lord, Satan created the very situation which allowed man to multiply and fill the earth, which was the reason God created the earth in the first place. As such, as unbelievable as it may seem, Satan was the real maker of mankind. As it says in 2 Nephi 2:22-25: "And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin. But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy."

But man couldn't have joy unless there was a way to redeem him and save him from his fallen condition. And there was. "And behold, this is the whole meaning of the law, every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal. And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance. And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption. Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you" (Alma 34:14-17)

"Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement--save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption. Wherefore, the first judgment which came upon man must needs have remained to an endless duration. And if so, this flesh must have laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more. O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more... O how great the plan of our God! For on the other hand, the paradise of God must deliver up the spirits of the righteous, and the grave deliver up the body of the righteous; and the spirit and the body is restored to itself again, and all men become incorruptible, and immortal, and they are living souls, having a perfect knowledge like unto us in the flesh, save it be that our knowledge shall be perfect" (2 Nephi 9:7-8,13).

In Genesis 22:2-13 we see a great foreshadowing of the Atonement in the sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham. "And he [God] said [unto Abraham], Take now thy son, thine only [son] Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid [it] upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.

"And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here [am] I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where [is] the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here [am] I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only [son] from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind [him] a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son."

I would like to comment on the ram which was caught in a thicket by his horns. What I find interesting about this is that often the Devil is pictured as having horns. My personal opinion is that in this story the ram represents the Devil who is literally trapped in his wanderings on the earth. The ram had no idea what Abraham was doing, and I'm sure neither did the Devil. Yet, the Devil, like the ram, was caught by his own doings and in the end was the one who was actually destroyed instead of mankind.

There is still another great prophecy related to the Atonement. In Numbers 21:6-8 we read: "And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live."

I was always bewildered by why these verses used the symbol of the serpent to represent Christ on the cross, although there was no doubt that this was it's meaning. The Book of Mormon also testifies to this fact. "Behold, he was spoken of by Moses; yea, and behold a type was raised up in the wilderness, that whosoever would look upon it might live. And many did look and live. But few understood the meaning of those things, and this because of the hardness of their hearts. But there were many who were so hardened that they would not look, therefore they perished. Now
the reason they would not look is because they did not believe that it would heal them" (Alma 33:19-20).

"Yea, did he not bear record that the Son of God should come? And as he lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness, even so shall he be lifted up who should come. And as many as should look upon that serpent should live, even so as many as should look upon the Son of God with faith, having a contrite spirit, might live, even unto that life which is eternal" (Helaman 8:14-15).

My confusion was centered in the use of the symbol of the serpent. I reasoned that there was no way that the symbol of the Devil would also be used as the symbol for Christ. In fact, in the New Testament, beginning from the words of John until the book of Revelation, the title given to Christ because of His Atonement was "the Lamb of God." Under the law of Moses, it was lambs that were to be sacrificed. So the symbol of a lamb is a more appropriate one for Christ's atonement. Then why was Moses commanded to put a serpent on the cross as a symbol for people to look toward? This always bothered me.

And then I thought about the ram that was sacrificed in place of Isaac. Although Jesus was put to death physically, it was only temporary, because He came back to life again. And because of Christ's atonement and resurrection, all mankind will live again. As Job so eloquently stated, "And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God" (Job 19:26). Then who is it that will surely die? The Devil! Christ's death on the cross didn't kill Jesus, but it did kill Satan!

When Jesus was crucified, it was the serpent who was really being crucified because at that point he had lost the game. Jesus said "it is done" and it was! There was nothing Satan could do at that point that would ever change the situation. So, for me, now when I read about the fiery serpents at the time of Moses, I realize that it is through the Atonement that the serpent has been destroyed. Our Father's blessing to Eve had come true. The woman has hurt the heel of the serpent. And yet, despite all these clues that God gave to show what His strategy was, Satan never caught on. What a game our Father in Heaven has played! As Nephi declared: "O how great the plan of our God!" (2 Nephi 9:13).

Because of the atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ, death has been rendered an event rather than a destiny.

THE PURPOSE OF THE BOOK OF MORMON

But that wasn't the only brilliant move on God's part. The second move where He out maneuvered Satan was in the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. To fully appreciate this, we must again go back to the beginning.

In the beginning, the earth had only one land mass and one sea. It wasn't until the time of Peleg that the land was divided (see Genesis 10:25). This caused the American continent to be separated and kept apart from the people who lived in and around the Middle East. Do you think this was just by chance? I don't think it was. For me this one was another one of the great moves in God's game against the Devil, and as we study the allegory of the olive tree as found in book of Jacob we come to understand better why He did this.

As an aside, I feel certain that the apostle Paul knew about this prophetic allegory which was written by the prophet Zenos, otherwise it would have been impossible for him to quote the same principle. See for yourself: "And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. 0 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, [take heed] lest he also spare not thee. Behold
therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in [his] goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural   branches], be graffed into their own olive tree?" (Romans 11:17-24)

There is no doubt in my mind he was quoting Zenos. There are those who claim that Joseph Smith merely copied Paul's word's into the book of Jacob when he made up the Book of Mormon, but anyone who seriously studies both sets of scriptures will easily see that Paul's writing is only a summation of what Zenos wrote, and not the other way around. Therefore, the Book of Mormon is the more complete record of the prophecy, while it is the Biblical account which is the copy of the original, which once more demonstrates that Joseph Smith didn't make up the Book of Mormon but that he was truly a prophet of God.

Having said that, let's get back to our main subject. What was God's purpose for keeping the two continents apart?

Going back to our analogy of chess, what makes someone a great player is their ability to foresee the moves of the other player. Of course God knows the end from the beginning, which makes Him one of the greatest players of the game. But if He knows the outcome before the game is even started, what kind of a problem can there be? The answer is: the apostasy!

Through the prophets, the Lord warned us many times there would be a great apostasy. In fact, in every dispensation there has always been an apostasy, but it was prophesied there would be a GREAT apostasy that would occur after the fullness of the gospel had been preached to every
nation. This was because of the roaring lion which Peter warned of. Remember we discussed that even though Satan, as a player in this deadly game, was defeated, still he stubbornly refused to give up and tried to kill as many people of God as he could.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the keystone of salvation, but it is based on accepting Christ as our personal Savior through baptism and the ordinances of the gospel. It's true that everyone will be resurrected because of the Atonement, and therefore, everyone will receive some form of salvation whether they believe in Jesus or not. But to be exalted, which is the grand purpose of God's plan, means that we not only have to believe in Jesus as our Savior and Redeemer, but we also have to follow Him and obey His commandments.

But how was Satan going to bring about this great apostasy? In 1 Nephi 13:24-29 we're told, "And the angel of the Lord said unto me: Thou hast beheld that the book proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew; and when it proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew it contained the fullness of
the gospel of the Lord, of whom the twelve apostles bear record; and they bear record according to the truth which is in the Lamb of God. Wherefore, these things go forth from the Jews in purity unto the Gentiles, according to the truth which is in God.And after they go forth by the hand of
the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious;
and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away. And all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men. Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands
of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God. And after these plain and precious things were taken away it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles; and after it goeth forth unto all
the nations of the Gentiles, yea, even across the many waters which thou hast seen with the Gentiles which have gone forth out of captivity, thou seest--because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book, which were plain unto the understanding
of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God--because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them."

This is how the Devil was able to orchestrate the great apostasy or falling away from God's plan of exaltation. And, in hindsight, we can see that it was a brilliant move on Satan's part. Then what could God do to counter this move? Like any good chess player, God already had a plan to correct this situation long before the Devil carried out his plan. We read in 1 Nephi 13:32-34: "Neither will the Lord God suffer that the Gentiles shall forever remain in that awful state of blindness, which thou beholdest they are in, because of the plain and most precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, whose formation thou hast seen. Wherefore saith the Lamb of God: I will be merciful unto the Gentiles, unto the visiting of the remnant of the house of Israel in great judgment. And it came to pass that the angel of the Lord spake unto me, saying: Behold, saith the Lamb of God, after I have visited the remnant of the house of Israel--and this remnant of whom I speak is the seed of thy father--wherefore, after I have visited them in judgment, and smitten them by the hand of the Gentiles, and after the Gentiles do stumble exceedingly, because of the most plain and precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, which is the mother of harlots, saith the Lamb--I will be merciful unto the Gentiles in that day, insomuch that I will bring forth unto them, in mine own power, much of my gospel, which shall be plain
and precious, saith the Lamb."

It's clear that God knew what Satan would do long before Satan knew what he would do. Here is what the book of Mormon says about this topic in 1 Nephi 13:39-41: "And after it had come forth unto them I beheld other books, which came forth by the power of the Lamb, from the Gentiles
unto them, unto the convincing of the Gentiles and the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the Jews who were scattered upon all the face of the earth, that the records of the prophets and of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are true. And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved. And they must come according to the words which shall be established by the mouth of the Lamb; and the words of the Lamb shall be made known in the records of thy seed, as well as in the records of the twelve apostles of the Lamb; wherefore they both shall be established in one; for there is one God and one  Shepherd over all the earth."

This prophecy is interesting because it states that those records which will come forth lastly SHALL ESTABLISH THE TRUTH OF THE FIRST. Of course, there is no doubt that the Bible is the first record. But why should there be a need to establish the truth of the Bible in the first place, unless it has lost something during the centuries?

Now we have two records. The first is the Bible, which was corrupted during the apostasy by false teachers and priests, and the second is the Book of Mormon that came forth uncorrupted in the last days, the purpose of "which is to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever-- And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD, manifesting himself unto all nations."

There are those who feel that the Bible itself has the same purpose, so they question the need for a second witness. That would be true IF the Bible wasn't corrupted. But there are those who cannot accept the idea that it was corrupted or that there has been an apostasy, or falling away from the truth. If that is true, then what about the words of Paul about the purpose of the church as recorded in Ephesians 4:12-13: "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."

According to the Bible, the purpose of the Christ's church is to bring the saints into a unity of the faith. But look at the state of the Christian world today. There is no unity among them. Even among just the Protestant churches there are hundreds of different denominations. Granted, they all start from the same basic belief in the Bible, Jesus Christ, and the doctrine of salvation by faith, but after this they are divided on hundreds of other issues.

Can we say with certainty that the church of Christ has achieved its goal? Not even the skeptics of Mormonism will agree to that. Therefore, it is clear to me that there needs to be something restored so that the true teachings of Christ can be taught in a way that achieves the unity of the faith spoken of by Paul. And, in fact, this restoration was prophesied by Peter in Acts 3:20-21: "And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began."

For me the most interesting part of this prophecy is where Peter states "SPOKEN BY THE MOUTH OF ALL HIS HOLY PROPHETS SINCE THE WORLD BEGAN." This clearly means that from the beginning, when the world first began, it was foreseen by God and foretold by each
and every prophet of God since then, that there would be a restitution of all things. But if someone doesn't believe that anything was lost, then how can there be a restoration? So they are then left in a quandary. If they are right, then all the prophets of God are wrong, in which case, how can they claim to believe in the words of the Bible? They can't have it both ways.

But how could God counter the Devil's move to corrupt the scriptures? We're told in 2 Nephi 1:8 "And behold, it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance."
More than that, the scriptures which these people had would also be subjected to corruption by the same church that corrupted the Bible.

Therefore, God deliberately kept this land apart from the others for the sake of preserving an accurate record of His words which could be brought forth at a later time to restore that which was lost. This was explained in Jacob in 5:13-14: "And these will I place in the nethermost part of my vineyard, whithersoever I will, it mattereth not unto thee; and I do it that I may preserve unto myself the natural branches of the tree; and also, that I may lay up fruit thereof against the season, unto myself; for it grieveth me that I should lose this tree and the fruit thereof. And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard went his way, and hid the natural branches of the tame olive-tree in the nethermost parts of the vineyard, some in one and some in another, according to his will and pleasure."

If Joseph Smith made up the Book of Mormon from his own imagination, and still was able to connect all these scriptures together, he would have to have been the most amazing man in all of history. I have spent all my life trying to understand everything in the Bible and Book of Mormon, sacrificing much in the way of time, effort, meditation, and prayer, and at my age I still couldn't do one tenth of what Joseph Smith accomplished with the Book of Mormon. More than that, I have the support of a computer and a large library of books on all the related topics while Joseph Smith had nothing! But if he translated the Book of Mormon through revelation from God, as he declared, then he is not an remarkable genius. Rather he is merely an inspired prophet of God.

In addition to the Book of Mormon, there is also the Doctrine and Covenants which restores the true understanding of the keys of the authority necessary to perform all the ordinances related to our salvation and exaltation. In this way the Lord has deny to the Devil the power to further rob
not only us but our kindred dead as well of the opportunity for exaltation.


Yet, even with all of this, Satan does not give up the fight. He places in the hearts of men the idea that "A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible" (2 Nephi 29:3), and he sows suspicion and doubt about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. But then God made another move.

No doubt you've heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls. They are a collection of ancient scriptures discovered about 50 years ago and have become a matter of great debate among Biblical scholars. These books were hidden in the ground for thousands of years, just like the Book of Mormon. And, just like the Book of Mormon, I believe they were brought forth by the will of God to help dispel the great apostasy.

This discovery has been very unfortunate for the critics of the book of Mormon because now we have proof that the Bible had lost something. For example, it has been the unanimous opinion of Biblical scholars that the book of Isaiah, as we have it, is complete and accurate. (They say pretty
much the same for most of the others books in the Bible.) However, in the Dead Sea Scrolls the scholars have found the book of Isaiah to be thirty percent longer than what is contained in our present-day Bible. In addition to the familiar books of the Bible, scholars have also found
additional scriptures contained in the Dead Sea Scrolls which are not in our Bible. If the Jews at that time considered these other writings sacred, why are they not in our Bible today?

As I wrote earlier, the game between God and Satan was over at the time of the atonement. Now we are playing to save ourselves, and God has given us the means to be protected. Our safety lies in following His commandments. I don't know why this is so hard for people to understand. If
you go to a doctor for help with a medical problem and he prescribe medicine to help you fight off infection and disease, wouldn't it make sense to follow his instructions? And if you don't want to take his advice, then why did you go to the doctor in the first place?

The same is true of Christ. If you accept Him and don't follow His ways, then what's the sense in claiming to believe in Him? It was Jesus who said, "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? (Luke 6:46).

Serpent

 


May each one of us be humble like a child, reaching out to take hold of our Father's hand to be
lead by Him.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 November 2010 13:36  

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