Monday, October 25, 2010

The Personalness of Christ's Atonement

I was reading in the Book of Mormon last night in 3 Nephi 16, which is part of Christ's teachings to the people here in the Americas after His resurrection. It's a powerful portion of scripture. What I realized as I was reading this chapter was that Christ was telling the people that He had to leave to go visit others of the House of Israel. Chapter 16 is basically a farewell chapter. The incredible thing is that after telling the people "I have to go, but I'll be back," the scriptures say, "And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus spoken, he cast his eyes round about again on the multitude, and beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them." So moved was the Savior by the pleading of these people that He asked them to bring forth their sick, their lame, their halt, their deaf -- anyone who was infirmed in anyone -- and He promised to heal them.
As I read through this part of scripture, I think I began to understand just how personal the love of our Savior is. The record says, "And he did heal them, every one." One by one, He took them, blessed them, healed them. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is personal. It heals us one at a time. We go to Christ, like the people in the Book of Mormon, wanting, longing for Him to heal us from the infirmities of this world -- from sin -- and He promises to heal us.
One of the greatest messages from the Book of Mormon is that Christ cares for the individual. Later in Chapter 17, Christ blesses all the children one by one. The Atonement is personal, just like our Father, just like our Savior. The Atonement was for the individual, and because it was, we never, ever have to feel alone.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Book of Mormon -- Another Testament of Jesus Christ

The Book of Mormon -- Another Testament of Jesus Christ is exactly what it professes to be in the title, that is a testament of Christ. The Book of Mormon prophet Nephi said, "We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophesies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins" (2 Nephi 25:26). That's the purpose of the Book of Mormon, to convince us that JESUS is the CHRIST. I know He is.
The Book of Mormon was translated by the power and gift of God through Joseph Smith, whom God called to be a prophet in our day. First published in 1830, it has spread throughout the world, bringing millions to a knowledge of their Redeemer and closer to Him.
The Book of Mormon contains a fullness of the Gospel. It teaches us exactly what we need to do to return to live with our Heavenly Father. It teaches the importance of faith, repentance, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. It teaches us that "it is by grace we are saved, after all we can do" (2 Nephi 25:23).
I love the Book of Mormon. It brings me closer to God each time I read it. As I read, I find answers to questions that are pressing on my mind. I have found peace in some of my hardest times as I have read the Book of Mormon. It answers questions of our souls, like "Why does God allow bad things to happen to good, righteous people?" That's a tough question, and one I have asked many, many times. In the Book of Mormon there are many times when bad things happen to good people and the Lord tells us why through his servants. For example, the prophet Samuel says, "Yea, the people of Nephi hath [the Lord] loved, and also hath he chastened them; yea...he chastened them because he loved them" (Helaman 15:3). Trials show the Lord's love for us. They show that He have faith that we can overcome them. Think about the story of Job. The Lord knew Job would prove faithful. That's one of the reasons bad things happen. There are many more, and you can find answers to this and other questions as you read the Book of Mormon.
God lives. The Book of Mormon witnesses of the reality of the Savior Jesus Christ. You can come nearer to God as you read it. I promise that because I know it for myself. You can too. To receive a free copy, visit

Why Do We Have Rules?

As I served as a missionary for the Church in Independence, Missouri, people would often ask me why the "Mormon Church" has so many rules. To most, it seems like an unending list of rules -- we don't drink or smoke, no premarital sexual relations, don't date until your 16, etc. DON'T, DON'T, DON'T. That's what it seems like -- a restrictive, no fun list.
"Why do we need rules to follow God," people would ask? Shouldn't God love us no matter what we do? What's the point of all the rules? Let me give an example:
What was the point of Mom giving me the rule to stay out of the mud? I should be able to do what I want! I should be able to jump and roll around in the mud all I want, right? That's my right. So, I chose to play in the mud. Now, Mom won't let me come in the house until I hose off the mud. Wait! Does Mom not love me anymore because I played in the mud? No. She just doesn't want something dirty (i.e. me) to come into the house.
As silly as this example seems, it is a simple illustration of why God gives us rules and commandments. The scriptures teach us that "no unclean thing can enter his [God's] kingdom" (3 Nephi 27:19). Just like I was dirty from breaking my mom's "restrictive" rule, breaking God's rules makes us unclean and God's house, like my mom's, is a house of order and cleanliness.
The good news of the Gospel is that we can "hose off" when we break God's rules. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah wrote, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:18). The Atonement of Jesus Christ can cleanse us from our sins when we repent (Moroni 10:31-32).
Rules and commandments are there to keep us safe. God's rules that we receive through His prophets are there for our protection. Just like seatbelt laws, God's laws are there for our benefit. Prophets have always given us commandments and they always will. It is a blessing to have rules. It keeps us safe.
I know that God loves us and wants us to live with him again. I know that as we keep his rules that we receive from prophets, we will be happy. God wants us to be happy in this life. That's why he gave us rules.