Tuesday, July 28, 2015

It. Is. Written.

There are a select few people that I quote excessively when conversing about philosophy, life and values.  One of them is Jack R. Christianson, specifically his lecture "The Mortal Christ".

The following story he mentions from the New Testament, when Jesus was lead into the wilderness to be tempted, will lead into what I want to talk about.  From the lecture itself:

"Let's start reading. We're in Matthew 4 verse 2 “and when He had fasted forty days and forty nights He was afterward an hungered and when the tempter came to Him, he said 'if thou be the Son of God command that these stones be made bread.'"  ... We want to please our Father and we don't want to take anything from the adversary. So how do you resist all the temptation? What did the Savior do? We're now in verse 4 of Matthew 4. “And He answered and said, it is” what? Written! Oh. Well what's He referring to? Scriptures. It is written. Well I can't do that Lucifer because the scriptures taught me it is not appropriate. Oh, then in verse 6 He resists another temptation “if thou be the Son of God cast thyself down, for it is written...” Oh my goodness what does Satan do now? He quotes scripture! “Oh okay I can play that game. Well it's written that you can do this.” Oh, I love the answer. In verse 7 Jesus said to him “it is written again, thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." [or in other words,] Don't you dare misquote the scriptures to Me. I wrote them. Wow. Will Satan use scripture against you? Sure he will. Therefore, how do you know what is the true meaning of scripture? You better have apostles and prophets to declare doctrine. Well, how will you resist temptation? You need to know what is written. And how will you know what is written if you never read 'em? If you can't read and you struggle with reading disabilities, then listen to them.

There's no excuse in our world today to not have the scriptures in your life every day. Every day. It is written. It is written. It is written. It is written. It is written. Is that obnoxious enough? Let's do it one more time. It is written. I don't want you to ever forget it. How did the Savior avoid temptation? He prays and He quotes scripture. In fact, Elder Maxwell says this: “Jesus noticed the tremendous temptations that came to Him, but He did not process and reprocess them. Instead, He rejected them promptly. If we entertain temptation, soon, they begin entertaining us.”."

I love that section of his lecture.  The point I wanted to make in this entry is the thing Brother Christianson absolutely HAMMERED there. IT. IS. WRITTEN.

So by now you can probably guess my goal with this entry is to emphasize the importance of scripture study.  No, actually, let me correct that.  My goal here is to come as close as I can to to over emphasizing, without actually going too far, the importance of in depth, soul searching, humble, earnest, even righteously anxious scripture study, the kind that transforms your soul, leaves a permanent, irreversible mark of the love of God our your heart and mind.  Well, that's a part of my goal here.  The other part is to encourage the other side of the title.  The commandment to prophets to write the words of the Savior as scripture was not given to apostles and prophets alone.  In 2 Nephi 29, we are told by Christ, "For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written [italics added]."

What does that mean?  The Lord is telling us that when He speaks to us, whether it be by someone else or by the Holy Ghost, we are commanded to write it down!

There was an interesting part of a talk by John Bytheway where he talks about the war chapters in the Book of Mormon and he mentions how, during Moroni's command to Zerahemnah, Moroni refers to "the sacred word of God, to which we owe all our happiness."  Wow.  If someone asked you "To what do you owe all your happiness?"  Would you say, "My scriptures"?  Why?  Because it's the word of Christ.  Lehi, in his vision of the tree of life says that the rod of iron, which Nephi clarifies later on represents the scriptures, leads to the fruit of the tree of life, which represents the love of God.  Said Lehi of this fruit, "I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted."  What did he just say?  Not "oh, it was pretty good" or "this was some awesome fruit", but most sweet above all.

I can say from personal experience that if you want to really know and comprehend the role and love of Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven in your life, you absolutely must engross yourself in fastidious feasting on Christ's words and recorded example.  There is nothing in all the vastness of existence and reality that could ever be as sweet, unending, unwavering and triumphant as His love and counsel to the Father's children as given through scripture, confirmed to the hearts of men by the Holy Ghost.

Just a side note, because I'm a musician, did you know that that includes Latter-day Hymns as well?  President Boyd K. Packer said "...the hymns of the Restoration are, in fact, a course in doctrine!"

But the point here is that, as Elder Henry B. Eyring said "As the challenges around us increase, we must commit to do more to qualify for the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Casual prayer... won't be enough. Reading a few verses of the scripture... won't be enough. Doing the minimum of what the Lord asks of us won't be enough."  Casual scripture study.  The idea makes me cringe inside.  Feasting upon His word, marking, cross referencing, pondering, making notes, praying about what we read, writing down impressions and questions, etc. in an unbreakable daily fashion is what will get you to the level of spiritual maturity and capacity to feel and enjoy the full force of the love of our Eternal Father and our Savior.

One more point I want to make here before I wrap up.  The last thing I want to do is diminish the importance of the Bible, but in our day, we have been told by a prophet of God that the book which will get us closer to God than any other book in existence today is the Book of Mormon.  Please, study the Bible.  Feast upon it.  Pour through Ensigns and other official church publications sanctioned by the First Presidency.  But never let yourself go a day without some kind of personal increase in understanding, knowledge and comprehension of spiritual things from the Book of Mormon.  I know, by the power of the Holy Ghost, that it is true, that it's record of the words of Christ is factual, that it's account of Christ's life, words and example is veritable, properly and purely authoritative and unerring, that it is truth, that He is truth.

Please don't make the mistake of treating scripture study as just something to get done.  I have experienced the heart ache that comes from attitudes like that.  I have also tasted of the pure joy and personal growth that comes from making it, making Him, the center of everything we think, say and do.  We have such incomprehensible potential to become great, to become even as They are, Jesus Christ and our Eternal Father, if we would just give ourselves constant reminders, it is written.  It is written. It is written. It is written!  Oh, and remember, write what He tells you personally as well.  Take the word of God into your heart and mind every day and experience the true transforming power of and peace from the Atonement of Christ.  You'll NEVER regret it.

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