The Gospel Irony

In 2 Nephi 2:7, we read that, “Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.”

Now, there are dozens, if not hundreds of scriptures that I could use to point this out, but the thought came to me while reading this verse of scripture about the irony of the Savior of Man suffering, bleeding, and dying for every man, woman, and child born on this Earth and many more Earths, when it is HE who has done nothing wrong.  Him who has not offended the law or any person or perfect rule or Spirit.  Him who is the person who deserves it least of all, and yet He did it willingly for us...

Jesus Christ suffered unimaginable pain and anguish, pressure and absolute mind-numbing-sorrow, when He was the only man or person who needed to face Justice because of anything done wrong or out of any debt whatsoever!

He volunteered to go-through or experience all of that for us.  Another part of irony is that, it is because of Him having experienced that first-hand, in the flesh, experientially (not knowing it "through the Spirit" or because He is one with God that Father)--His blood, His sweat, His tears, His body bruised and broken, that has brought out both the possibility of Eternal Life (through His mercy and grace) as well as the Resurrection (through His mercy and grace).3

He only asks of us (those who will partake of the two glorious gifts or even the gift of the resurrection) only to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

The tragically ironic part of this "story" is that every person who is born (on this world and others), will be resurrected regardless of what they do or what they believe...  Just done--perfected body!  Even those Sons of Perdition will receive one.  Jesus Christ paid for everyone's sins, though--in other words, everyone could have been made pure and clean to live eternally with their loved-ones and God the Father.  Everyone might have enjoyed this ultimate gift, because the price was already paid, and paid-in-full; millions or billions or more (especially if we're counting numberless worlds...) will have wasted that gift.

Everyone will be resurrected, regardless of what their choices were, but many if not most will have already been paid for "full-admission" into the Celestial Kingdom, and that price was or will have been wasted!  Or, if you want to think of it, in terms if some sort of punishment, that wasted pain and suffering will damn you in the end if not accepted.  Sorry, but true.



Is it weakness or not asking for help?

So, all things being equal or starting from scratch, or setting-it-up the best way that I can think of, we were born on this Earth? Or YOU were born on third Earth, and therefore followed Jesus Christ when we were in Heaven.  There was no vail of forgetfulness then, and you chose the right when before our Father.

What’s the difference now?  Your mom loves you and you love her, so why isn’t her desire for you to follow the Father enough of an incentive?  Unlike your Father and Mother in Heaven, you can see your mom...  Why is the weakness of the flesh (2 Nephi 4: 17-21) and the natural man (Mosiah 3:19) enough to keep you from choosing what you know is right?  Choosing not to disappoint your mom?

Dr. C. Terry Warner would say that it all comes back to self-betrayal in his book, “Bonds that Make us Free”.  I am asking that even more fundamental question: Why do we choose and do things we know we shouldn’t?  Thinking in a place and a way that isn’t limited by man or your body or temptation or even the devil/Lucifer/Satan, we have shown that we are able to choose the right over the wrong—why not do it every time?

Guess the answer is: we are mortal and weak!  That’s just not good enough for me, though...  Because we can and do choose the right oftentimes. We are still left with the question: Why not every time?  Why do I have the strength sometimes but not all of the time?

You could say, “Well, that’s the trial of Life, Josh!”  The only thing that makes it easier to make that right choice over what your weak flesh wants, is to align yourself with the power that comes from the Atonement of Jesus Christ—the Enabling powers of the Atonement of Jesus Christ!



Example from Laman & Lemuel

What do I need to personally do to not become hard in my heart and not look into God as I ought?  What were Laman & Lemuel not doing that they I should be doing?  Because, besides the overt offenses to Nephi, we don't know that their thoughts were so bad, EXCEPT when we look at their OMISSIONS or things they did not do, that they were commanded to do:

• Were they reading their scriptures?

• Were they praying?

• Were they obeying their father & their mother?

• Were they going to the Mountain of the Lord, oft?

• Were they having FHE with their wife and children?

• Were they teaching that which had been taught to them to others?

• Were they activating less-active family members?

• Were they performing service?

• Were they loving their wife with all the love they had?

• Were they loving their children like their wife?

All of this is contingent, though, on a supposition that they were being prompted by the Holy Ghost to follow Christ—so, only like a 0.00% chance that they weren’t...



Can/Does man see one member of the Godhead simultaeoisly or at the same time?

Sure, in cases like John the baptist at Christ's baptism or with Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove...  Or in verse 1 Nephi 11:27 where Nephi sees Christ and the Holy Ghost (with the Father recognizing the Son--which is exactly like John the Baptist...).  But what about 1 Nephi 11:12 (where the Holy Ghost had gone before Nephi's presence when the Virgin was with child...) or how the disciples aren't given the Holy Ghost till after Christ is no longer with them!  --  in the economy of God, I just don't think that man needs more than one member of the Godhead there at once (redundant?)!  Just as scriptures are not re-translated if it's possible to get your hands on the already-existing copy!



Escape Velocity

Another scientific concept that conceptually is very similar to “event horizon”, that I have already written about here and here.  You could say that the concept that I have tried to analogize to this celestial concept--doing the sort of things and being the sort of person that will call down the blessings of heaven into your life--to an event horizon, but you might also think, "Don't you mean to compare it to 'escape velocity'?"  Wikipedia defines it as: "In physics, escape velocity is the minimum speed needed for an object to escape from the gravitational influence of a massive body. "  Let me explain why the idea of an event horizon lends itself "better" than of idea escape velocity...

Simply put: We are continuously and constantly being called HOME to our Heavenly Father's kingdom--where our intelligences were given spirit bodies and where we originally all shouted for joy as we accepted our Elder Brother's presentation of our Father in Heaven's Plan of Salvation!  We all do all we can to return to Him and our Heavenly Family (some of us are taking a long detour, but our wanted destination is the same...).  We aren't wanting to escape His love and blessings.  We all feel the tug and pull back to our Heavenly Home.

Thus, we are returning to God or being "sucked home", as an event horizon, and not trying to escape our home.



Calvin Stott's baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and becoming a newest member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

He did it.  On 10:30 this day, October 7th, 2017--he was baptized!

Pianist: Quentin Carney (older brother -- in vivo)

Opening prayer: Samantha Stott (little sis)

Talk on Baptism: Brenda Stott (paternal grandmother)

Baptism: Josh Stott (father) & Calvin Stott (in se)

Talk on the Holy Ghost: Addison Stott (older brother -- from Solinas, CA; video uploaded to YouTube)

Confirmation: Josh Stott (father) & Paul Stott (paternal grandfather), Brian Larson (maternal grandfather), Jeff Larson (uncle), Rory Brooks (4th ward [homeward] bishopric representative)


New Twist on Running Faster than You are Able

Remember, remember that we are commanded not to run faster than we are able?

When we, or at least I hear or read that, I am inclined to think only about myself: "I shouldn't stress about doing more than I am asked to do (which is absolutely true -- think of Ammon/Aaron [taking too much "joy" in yourself and your accomplishments or Alma's soliloquy "Oh, that I were an angel").  But, what about everyone else?  Can you think of everybody else having been commanded not to run faster than they are able?!?

Now, apply that very same principle to everyone else" that are not running faster than they are able!  You zealot!

So stop thinking that the world should be further along than it is (even though we should all be, individually, continually improving and becoming better at keeping the covenants we've made); stop wishing that people should be better able to control themselves (and remember that you should worry about better controlling YOURSELF better!!!); stop wondering why some people (specifically and individually) aren't better than they are.  We all should be better than we are, but you need to be more charitable and stop being the world's judge and your brother's and sister's judge!

Jesus Christ, our perfect exemplar, is worried about helping them become better (and, for that matter, helping YOU become better) but not "worried about them" in the moment, but is actively helping them at being better than they are right now.  Christ is perfectly charitable--charitable for everyone--it's He that paid the price for their sins and weaknesses, paid the price for their infirmities and sadness; can't you just let Him do His job?  He is only doing it perfectly well...have you ever done job or anything as perfectly well?  Give Him and give them a break!

Do start/keep being and becoming better!  Remember all that you've already learned from the scriptures and the temple and from college and Terry Warner: As you improve and are a better person, you will be giving those around you different things to respond-to and different requests ("respond to me as a human [I-Thou], instead of an object [I-it]" and as you become more perceptive to the Spirit, you will make better choices and do and say the things that your Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ would want you to do/say).

Think of your own family.  Both you and every single member of your family has been commanded not to run faster than they are able--in other words, don't try to do more than you've been asked to do and if you find yourself trying to do just that--STOP IT!!!

Be more patient.  Be more charitable.  Be more of both!



Christ simultaneously sees us as Eternal beings with an eternal end as He sees us in our sin!

God can't look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.  Yet, Christ is eternally and infinitely forgiving and compassionate.

Watch/Listen to Elder Dale Gunnar Renlund's April 2017 talk, Our Good Shepard, where he cites the example of Victor Hugo's Les Miserables comparison of the bishop of Digne to Christ and asks, "All the same, should the scabs of the sheep cause the shepherd to recoil?"

The narrator (Hugo) provides a definitive answer: NO!

"The Savior’s mortal ministry was indeed characterized by love, compassion, and empathy.  He did not disdainfully walk the dusty roads of Galilee and Judea, flinching at the sight of sinners.  He did not dodge them in abject horror.  No, He ate with them.  He helped and blessed, lifted and edified, and replaced fear and despair with hope and joy.  Like the true shepherd He is, He seeks us and finds us to offer relief and hope.  Understanding His compassion and love helps us exercise faith in Him—to repent and be healed."

Christ views sin in us as a condition that needs His treatment, care, and compassion!

"... our genuine conversion brings 'meekness, and lowliness of heart,' which invites 'the Holy Ghost [and fills us with] perfect love,' an 'unfeigned love' for others."

We need to go to those who need help--rest-homes, care-centers, homeless-shelters, soup-kitchens...  We need to be willing seek-out missionary opportunities as directed by the Spirit--also need to remember that we're not full-time missionaries or general authorities...  Get and Be out-of-our-comfort-zone!!!  Till it becomes your comfort zone...

"Understanding His compassion and love helps us exercise faith in Him—to repent and be healed...  Our role is also to help and bless, lift and edify, and replace fear and despair with hope and joy."

We can motivate people to change by our compassion and mercy, just as the Savior did!

"The Savior’s compassion, love, and mercy draw us toward Him... [And] through His Atonement, we are no longer satisfied with our sinful state.

As we understand His role, through doing as He has done, we become more like Him and naturally do more of His work, which helps us become more like Him.  ...  The fastest way to become like our Savior is to do His work--as we do His work, we will repent more and understand Him & our Heavenly Father more... 

Christ told the phrases that implied that the woman taken in-the-very-act-of-adultry, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

The woman was left alone (as those who had planned to kill her left, their consciences having been pricked) and "she was motivated to change because of His compassion and mercy."

We get further insight by the Joseph Smith translation of the bible of what happened then:

"And the woman glorified God from that hour, and believed on his name.” JST John 8:11

"God is clear about what is right and acceptable to Him and what is wrong and sinful. This is not because He desires to have mindless, obedient followers. No, our Heavenly Father desires that His children knowingly and willingly choose to become like Him and qualify for the kind of life He enjoys."

"Our role is also to help and bless, lift and edify, and replace fear and despair with hope and joy."



Eternal plan & covenant

The Eternal Plam of Happiness has a built-in covenant:

God's covenant -- God, our Eternal Father in Heaven, the God of the whole, entire, universe (as in, any part in the whole, wide, universe that you can imagine or think of or draw or wonder about [except imaginary parts of the universe or parts that are not real and true--but, He is your God and created your brain]) has promised or covenanted with us that He will give us everything that He possesses when we (you and I and she and he) keep our end of the covenant.

Our covenant -- We promise to obey His laws, rules, and by following the example of His perfect Son!

Seem a little too-heavy?  That's it...  All we have to do is follow His Son, which includes being baptized, repenting of our sins (both sins of commission and omission), making every other covenant (after baptism--the gateway to the Celestial Kingdom) required, and endure to the end.

The beauty is that once we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, he will "teach us all things that we should do" (2 Nephi 32:5).  Just as the words of Christ will tell you all things that you should do (2 Nephi 32:3).

Not hard at all.  C. Terry Warner used to tell his classes (and possibly wrote it in his book, Bonds that make Us Free), that this life is hard, but not hard to bare!).



Why is suffering the preferred payment for Justice?

Ok, so we have mankind--all of Heavenly Father's children born to this Earth--lost and damned.  What do we need?  To be brought back into His presence and be resurrected.  How can that happen?  Jehovah volunteered to suffer the Atonement and pay the debt to Justice and grant us all a resurrected body, just as He now has one (and can resurrect us all, as He now has that Priesthood Key and knowledge and power...).  Sure, ok; I get it--the only Eternal currency that the intelligences of the Universe accept is suffering--but why?  Is it the pain?  Is it the cosmic juices used-up to recover from that?  Is it like the universal endorphin rush (like cutting)?

I think my question now has moved from "Why was that suffering necessary?" to "Why does the payment come in the form of suffering?"  "Is suffering necessary to progress?"

If I bring it back to earthly experiences, I am left with examples like the breaking down of muscle--in order to make a muscle grow, you must first break-down the muscle to allow it to rebuild itself bigger and stronger than before.

From what I can gather, "After you workout (where you are essentially breaking-down your muscles), your body repairs or replaces damaged muscle fibers (myofibrilsthrough a cellular process where it fuses muscle fibers together to form new muscle protein strands or create muscle hypertrophy (growth)..."  These new muscle strands increase in thickness and number, thus, leaving you with more muscles! (So how do you actually add muscle to your muscle cells? This is where Satellite cells come in and act like stem cells for your muscles. When activated, they help to add more nuclei to the muscle cells and therefore contribute directly to the growth of myofibrils (muscle cells)...  stress is a major component involved in the growth of a muscle.

Now, let's turn back to our spirits.  If our spiritual muscles are what makes us able to be more perfect in following Jesus Christ's example, then we must "break them down" by exercise and causing our muscles to be "stressed" so that we can recover and the spiritual muscles will be bigger.

We are commanded to repent.  Not just turn around, but change and become something new--something better!  Repentance is a source of stress.  If you are repenting (or think you are repenting) and it is not stressful, in the words borrowed from Mr. Mom, "You're doing it wrong!"

So, why is the stress or the break-down of spiritual muscle (and I am equating suffering with that break-down) necessary for Justice?  Remember, Christ has satisfied any debt that you or any of us owes to Justice and has taken-upon himself not only our sins and weaknesses but also the role of Justice--He is the new benefactor of our "loan", so-to-speak...  Is my suffering adding anything to His Mercy?  No!  My suffering can in no way be used to cause the intelligences or Justice to do anything for me, but Christ can through the enabling power of His atonement!  

But, why does and how can Christ's suffering have any sway?  Just because of the injustice and the pity owed him.  That guilt that we feel, may be part of the suffering too (because Christ felt no guilt, being completely free from sin, we may need the guilt as part of our suffering).

Think of Matthew 26:39, which says:

And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

It may be that the only payment that is acceptable to satisfy Justice for sin: suffering!