Thursday, 29 August 2013

What happens when you die?

So, here is a question most people ask at some point in their life, what happens when you die?

One important thing to remember is that we are all spirits, before we lived here on earth we were spirits without bodies, we came here and gained a physical body. When we die our body and spirit are separated again. Eventually everyone will be resurrected, that means everyone will have a physical body again, and I'll talk about that in a future Blog, but for now I would like to focus on what happens between when we die and when we are resurrected.

In the Book of Mormon, a prophet called Alma teaches what happens between death and the resurrection in Alma 40:11-13. In these verses, Alma explains that everyone will be taken home to God. Although we will all go to the same place, we will not all feel the same. The ways in which people will feel, we refer to as spirit paradise and spirit prison.

The spirits of good people, who have accepted Jesus Christ and been baptized will be in a state of paradise. This is because they have been washed clean of their sins through Jesus Christ and can rest from their cares and sorrows. In contrast to this, those who have not done this will feel as though they are in a prison, feeling tormented by the guilt of all of the wicked things that they have done, and finding no relief because they have not accepted their savior.

At first, this looks and is unfair. Also, there are a lot of people who have never even heard of the name "Jesus Christ" let alone the wonderful message that he taught. Will they be left to suffer there just because of the circumstances that God put them in? after all, God is the one who put them in these places where they will never hear of him.

The truth is, God loves these people. In fact he loves all of us so much, he gives everyone the opportunity to be washed clean through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 3:18-19 Here it teaches, that after Christ had suffered for our sins, that he may bring us back to God, He went and "Preached unto the spirits in prison"  And then in the next chapter 1 Peter 4: 5-6 It teaches that the Gospel was preached to them that are dead.

Eventually we will all be resurrected, but I will talk more about that in my next post.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

How did Joseph Smith become a prophet?

So in my last post, I briefly explained how Jesus Christ established a church and how God knew there would be a falling away from his truth.

So, in 1820, Joseph smith was 14 years old. He was living in up state New York. In the town he was living in there were a lot of different Christian sects, all contending for followers. Even his own family were going to different churches.
"In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know?"
As you can see, that war of opinions is still going on today. Today we have just as many churches saying "We are God's church, join us" or even worse "they are not from God, because..." Just like back then, people today still try to prove each other wrong. 

Whilst this was going on, he was reading through the bible himself. He came across a verse in the New testament: James 1:5  "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." To me, this means that if you don't know what to do, ask God and He will let you know. 

So Joseph reflected on this, and eventually he came to the conclusion that he must do as James directs, and that is to ask God. So, he went to a quiet woodland near where he lives, and he knelt down to pray in order to say his first vocal prayer. In his own words he describes the occasion in this link. (Joseph Smith History 1:15-17)

To summarise, he received a vision of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. They instructed him not to join with any of the churches, and told him that through him they would bring back the truth. Three years later (in 1823), Joseph had another vision. This time he was visited by an angel called Moroni. This angel gave him instructions on where he would find a record of the angels people, buried in the ground. But at this time he was told that he was not to take them, instead he was instructed to return to this place every year. In 1827 he was finally permitted to take this record out of the ground, which he was instructed to translate. This record is The Book of Mormon.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

What happened to Christ's Church?

When Jesus Christ was on the earth he established a church, and had many followers. These followers were called disciples, of all the followers he had gathered, He chose 12 men, and He called them Apostles. (Luke 6:13-16)
These 12 Apostles traveled around with Christ, Learning constantly of what He taught and preaching along with Him. Later (Luke 10:1) he also appointed 70 other people, and He sent them ahead to teach and preach. So by this time, He must have gathered a large number of followers. 

After His death, Jesus Christ, appeared to his Apostles, (and other people) and he told them very clearly, that they had work to do, and that they were to teach. In John 21:15-17 Jesus instructs Simon Peter to feed his sheep, or in other words, look after those who follow him, both those who are already following him and those who are not yet following him.
With the death of Judas, There was left only 11 Apostles, They knew they needed another Apostle, and they had two people who they felt fitted the qualifications, Barsabas and Matthias(acts 1:21-16). The Lot fell on Matthias and he became one of the 12 Apostles. They then traveled around together, until at the day of Pentecost, the Holy Ghost poured out on them, and they began to preach and baptize in the name of Jesus Christ. They also began to teach amongst the Gentiles. and ordaining people in different area's where they preached.(Acts 14:23)

Most of the New Testament is letters written by the Apostles. The reasons for most of these letters is because false idea's had crept into the church. For example in 1 Corinthians, Paul is telling the Corinthians to stop being divided. (1 Corinthians 1:10-15) or even in his letter to the Galatians, Where he is shocked they have gone to another Gospel, They still believe in Christ, but are being persuaded to believe false idea's (Galatians 1:6-12) and there are many other examples of this.

Not only were the Apostles having to deal with false idea's but they were being persecuted, many were martyred or exiled, and so with their deaths they were not able to continue strengthening the churches around the world. In a couple of the letters, they even prophesied the inevitable, which is a falling away from the truth. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4, 2 Timothy 4:1-4) These two scriptures indicate that there will be a falling away from the truth, and that they knew it would happen. 

As we see from history there was a great confusion about the message of Jesus Christ, In 325 AD the emperor Constantine, after he himself was converted to Christianity, actually arranged for all the different bishops together around the world and to agree on what they believed thats how different the beliefs were back then, but even since then, there have been many break off's from what people interpret as truth. 

This leads up to 1820, When Joseph Smith was 14 years old, he wanted to know which of all the churches was right. Because he did not know what to do. One day whilst reading through the Bible, he came across James 1:5  "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." And this is exactly what he did, I will go into what happened in another Blog. 

Thursday, 8 August 2013

What did Jesus Christ do for me?

So, Continuing the theme of Jesus Christ, I would like to go more into my beliefs on what he has done for all of us.

He was born, under unique circumstances. Born of the virgin Mary, he is the only begotten of the Father. He is The Son of God, In the flesh. He came here to play a unique role in all of our lives. He came here to sacrifice his life, For our sins.

Whilst he lived here, he did three important things, first he lived a perfect life, this is something that only he has done. Everyone else in the world has sinned in one way or another. And yet, he lived perfectly before God, He kept all of the commandments, and so he was the only one who has lived a life worthy enough to be able to return to live with God, The Father.

Next he came to teach the truth. He always sought to teach those around him, Even when he was young he always taught. And when he began his Earthly ministry, he gathered a lot of followers, and of these Disciples, he chose 12 men, who he called Apostles. These men carried on with his teaching after his death.

And finally, He came to pay the price for Sin, This was only possible for him because first, he is the Son of God, and second because he lived a perfect life, If he had not lived perfectly he would have needed a savior just the same as us.And if he had not been the Son of God, The agony of Sin, would have killed him.

So What does it mean, That he paid the price for sin? Well, He suffered Everything. This started in Gethsemane, in Luke 22:41-44 In particular i would refer to verse"44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground."

His sweat was as great drops of blood, I believe that in this moment, he suffered everything. That he went through every pain, sickness and temptation in this moment, that he went through what it describes in The Book of Mormon, in Alma 7:11-13. And that in this moment, he suffered for the sins of all mankind. 

After going through agony, that would have killed any normal man, he was betrayed by Judas, questioned, tortured and than nailed to the cross and willingly gave up his life. And as they did this, he still asked God, His Father, to forgive them (Luke 23:34

But this is not the end, not only did he, through the power of his sacrifice pay the price in full, for the sins that we have committed, so we would all be given the chance to return back to God. But 3 days later, he rose from the tomb, And was resurrected. Overcoming the final hurdle, even death itself so that we all could live again.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Jesus Christ. There for us, from the Beginning.

Before we existed here, we existed as spirits, with God, The Father, and He loved us. He wanted us us all to grow and become like Him, and so he presented a plan to us, where he would create a physical world and there He would give us the opportunity to learn and grow.
We were all present when God presented this plan to us; that we would all be given a physical body, and that we would all be tested to see if we would follow God. In order to make this plan perfect God said that he would need a savior, someone who would keep all of the commandments which God would give to us and would be willing to suffer the pains and sicknesses that all of us experience, and then ultimately to sacrifice his life for us to pay the price of the wrong choices that we make.

In the spirit world there was one spirit there who was like God. He was Jesus Christ. He said to the Father, Here I am, send me. There was also another who said Here I am, send me, and I will make sure that nobody will fail. The second was Lucifer. His plan was that all of us would be guaranteed to make it because we would not have any choice in this world, but God knew that this plan could not work and that our ability to choose is what helps us to grow and to be happy.

 Jesus Christ was then foreordained from before the foundation of the world to save us just like it says in
 1 Peter 1;18-20. and Lucifer rebelled against God. He then became Satan the father of all lies. He was then cast out along with his followers and they desired to lead all of us away from God and to be as miserable as they are.

And so when Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden in a state of innocence where they gained a physical body. They could not have children at this stage because they had no knowledge of good or evil. Satan than tempted them to break God's commandments. They ate the fruit and gained knowledge of good and evil, and they became fallen, being cast out of the garden and out of God's presence.

Our gaining this knowledge for ourselves was a part of God's plan. This is why he chose a savior from the beginning. This knowledge allows us to act for ourselves; whether we choose to do good and follow God, or whether we do evil and follow Satan.

So, When Christ came to the earth he lived a perfect life, and because he lived a life free from sin, he was able to offer himself a sacrifice for our sins and allow us all the opportunity to return to God. There is nothing that his sacrifice did not cover. All we have to do is learn for ourselves what heaven will be like. We learn this by keeping his commandments and experiencing the joy that comes from following God.

Finally, after his crucifixion, Jesus Christ was resurrected. He overcame death itself, that we all may be resurrected one day as well. How great was the trust and responsibility that God, The Father, had in his perfect Son.