Tuesday, August 17, 2004


In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul teaches that faith, hope, and charity are abiding principles, but that the greatest of them all is charity. In my studies this week, I focused on the link between faith, hope, and charity and discovered some requirements that must be met if we are to fully understand the doctrine of charity.

First, I would like to return to Ether 12 and comment on some of the verses there.
  • 28 Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that afaith•, hope and charity bringeth unto me—the fountain of all brighteousness.
  • 31 For thus didst thou manifest thyself unto thy disciples; for aafter• they had bfaith•, and did speak in thy name, thou didst show thyself unto them in great power.
Faith, Hope and charity bring people unto Christ. First, God works among men according to their faith.
  • 32 And I also remember that thou hast said that thou hast prepared a house for man, yea, even among the amansions• of thy Father, in which man might have a more excellent bhope; wherefore man must hope, or he cannot receive an inheritance in the place which thou hast prepared.

Hope is required for inheritance in the Kingdom. Hope in what? Hope that we have a mansion prepared for us in Heaven. (What is symbolized by the mansion? The scriptures do not seem to expound on this point. I think this symbol is one thing we must ponder and come to our own understanding.) Looking in Enos 1:27 and D&C 98:18, it appears that this particular assurance is revealed to us, which is what gives us this “more excellent hope.” This hope, therefore, is a gift from Heaven. We must ask for it.
  • 33 And again, I remember that thou hast said that thou hast aloved• the world, even unto the laying down of thy life for the world, that thou mightest take it again to prepare a place for the children of men.
  • 34 And now I know that this alove• which thou hast had for the children of men is charity; wherefore, except men shall have charity they cannot inherit that place which thou hast prepared in the mansions of thy Father.

There is something in this that is very hard for me to understand. Because I am a mortal with limited understanding, death appears a huge thing to me and an obviously supreme sacrifice. It is strange to relate, though, that when I look at death thinking about what Christ knew about His future, I’m not sure why it would seem like a great sacrifice to Him; after all, He knew he could take up his life again.

Now, do not misunderstand me. I’m not intending to cast doubt on the doctrine, but rather to cast doubt on my own understanding. I am not trying to suggest that there was no significance in the atonement. On the contrary, I do have a testimony that the atonement of the Savior is the most significant act of all. What I am saying is that this logical conundrum points out to me in perfect clarity that there is some great principle in the atonement that I am missing and I need to learn what it is.

This is what I mean by a requirement for us to understand charity. I feel that having a full understanding of the Atonement and a full understanding of charity are probably one and the same. Perhaps as I seek to have Charity in my life, I will come to a real understanding of the atonement.

It was mentioned above that hope is a requirement for inheritance in the kingdom. Now in verse 34, charity has been added. Charity is this same love that motivated Jesus Christ to lay his life down for us. So much more the reason for me to understand it!
  • 35 Wherefore, I know by this thing which thou hast said, that if the Gentiles have not acharity•, because of our weakness, that thou wilt prove them, and btake• away their ctalent, yea, even that which they have received, and give unto them who shall have more abundantly.
  • 36 And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord that he would give unto the Gentiles agrace•, that they might have charity.
The Book of Mormon (the talent) is given that we may learn charity. It is interesting that Nephi also laments about weakness in writing. (See 1 Nephi 19:6, 2 Nephi 3:21) If we fail to learn Charity because we get hung up on the weakness of the writing, that will still be no excuse for us. That which we have will be taken away and given to those who have abundantly. And like hope, charity is a gift. It must be asked for. It must be received.

So the first thing to understand about Charity is that understanding it is tied up in understanding the love of Jesus Christ, the same love that cause Him to lay down his life for us.

Next I want to talk about the kind of people that abound in faith, hope and charity.

Consider Alma 7:24: “And see that ye have afaith•, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works.” When Faith, hope, and charity are all found together, the result is good works. Notice the modifier on works. In order for our works to be "good", we must have faith in the Lord, we must have hope (assurance of redemption in the kingdom of God), and we must have the true love of Christ in us.

In Moroni 7, Mormon’s additional teachings on faith, hope, and charity are expounded by his son. Verse 3 is the scripture I found yesterday that so excited me when I read it: “Wherefore, I would speak unto you that are of the achurch, that are the bpeaceable• followers of Christ, and that have obtained a sufficient chope• by which ye can enter into the drest of the Lord, from this time henceforth until ye shall rest with him in heaven.”

This is a tremendous verse. First, consider who he is talking to: Members of the church, who are peaceable followers of Christ, who have obtained “sufficient hope” to enter into the rest of the Lord. This suggests three groups of spiritual progression in the church: First we have the general membership, which I assume would include everyone whose name is on the records of the church. Then there is a subset who are termed “the peaceable followers of Christ.” I would interpret this to be members who are active in the church, keep the commandments, and try to get along. Finally, there is a subset of these members who have received this sufficient hope to enter into the rest of the Lord.

What is this “sufficient hope?” What is the “rest of the Lord?” At first, I interpreted the “rest of the Lord” to mean entering the celestial Kingdom, however, Moroni goes on to say this: “by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord, from this time henceforth until ye shall rest with him in heaven.” Hmm. The “rest of the Lord” appears to be something that we can experience right now. Doing some more research, I found this explanation from Joseph F. Smith on this topic:
  • … What does it mean to enter into the rest of the Lord? Speaking for myself, it means that through the love of God I have been won over to Him, so that I can feel at rest in Christ, that I may no more be disturbed by every wind of doctrine, by the cunning and craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; and that I am established in the knowledge and testimony of Jesus Christ, so that no power can turn me aside from the straight and narrow path that leads back into the presence of God, to enjoy exaltation in His glorious kingdom; that from this time henceforth I shall enjoy that rest until I shall rest with Him in the heavens.

    I desire to impress this thought upon your minds, for I want you to understand that this is the meaning intended to be conveyed by the words, “entering into the rest of God.” Let me assure you that that man who is not thoroughly established in the doctrine of Christ, who has not yielded his whole soul unto the Lord, and to the Gospel He has taught to the world, has not yet entered into that rest. He is still at sea, so to speak, wandering, unstable, lacking firmness, lacking the faith that cannot be moved, ready to be overtaken by the cunning and craftiness of him who lies in wait to deceive and mislead into error and darkness. While he that has received the testimony of Jesus Christ in his heart, he that has yielded his all to the kingdom of God and to the will of the Father, is so established. His heart is fixed; his mind is made up; doubts have been dispelled; fears have all been removed; he knows in whom to trust; he is thoroughly established in his purposes and in his determination that, as for him and his house he will serve God, keep His commandments and walk, as far as it is possible for human creatures to walk, in purity of life, in honor, fidelity, and uprightness before the Lord.
So now, why have I gone through such great lengths to talk about this rest? Because Moroni says that this doctrine he is expounding on faith, hope, and charity is directed to the Saints who have obtained this rest. So, I see this as a message to us as saints, that if we are ever to truly understand the doctrine of Charity, we must first “enter into the rest of the Lord” or we cannot hope to understand it. Or in other words, Moroni, chapter 7 will be mostly opaque to those who do not have a hope in Christ. I don’t know why, but this has caused me considerable reflection and excitement. I feel like I have discovered another key to understanding how to return to Heaven.

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