Friday, August 14, 2015

"Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence" by Elder Jörg Klebingat

Find this talk here.

  • This topic is incredibly important. Lectures on Faith makes clear that we must know God approves of the direction we're taking in life.
    • "we ... proceed to treat of the knowledge which persons must have, that the course of life which they pursue is according to the will of God, in order that they may be enabled to exercise faith in him unto life and salvation." (Lectures on Faith 6:1, emphasis added)
    • In other words, we can't have faith "unto life and salvation" without a knowledge that we're following the will of God.
    • In verse 3, the lecture talks about "knowing, (not merely believing,)" which makes clear there's a difference.
    • Quoting verse 4: "nothing short of an actual knowledge of their being the favorites of heaven, and of their having embraced that order of things which God has established for the redemption of man, will enable them to exercise that confidence in him necessary for them to overcome the world, and obtain that crown of glory which is laid up for them that fear God."
    • Rephrased for brevity, the only way to be saved is to know ("more than mere belief, or supposition", v. 5) you're doing what God wants.
  • He asks if we were to have an interview with the Savior, "Would sins, regrets, and shortcomings dominate your self-image, or would you simply experience joyful anticipation?" It's unfortunate that we tend to think "sins, regrets, and shortcomings" generally would make us hesitant to speak with the Lord. Scripturally, the ones the Lord chastised were those who were prideful and hard hearted, but so long as people were teachable, He was willing to work with them no matter their sins.
    • Elder Klebingat points this out nicely in his own words: "The adversary knows that faith in Christ—the kind of faith that produces a steady stream of tender mercies and even mighty miracles—goes hand in hand with a personal confidence that you are striving to choose the right. For that reason he will seek access to your heart to tell you lies—lies that Heavenly Father is disappointed in you, that the Atonement is beyond your reach, that there is no point in even trying, that everyone else is better than you, that you are unworthy, and a thousand variations of that same evil theme."
  • "the kind of peaceful assurance and spiritual confidence that is yours to have if you only want it. "  The assurance our ways are right before heaven, as described in Lectures on Faith, may differ from the assurance he's talking about here. But the Lectures on Faith variety requires more than just wanting; it requires sacrifice. See, for instance, v. 9, which begins by saying, "It was in offering sacrifices that Abel, the first martyr, obtained knowledge that he was accepted of God".
  • "Take responsibility for your own spiritual well-being" Yes! That includes not pegging the leaders of the church with the responsibility to get you saved, by saying, "If I just follow the prophet, I'll be exalted."
  • Physical well-being is important, but I'm not sure it's of the same importance. D&C 123:13 says "we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness", which obviously is interesting wording and could probably be taken many different ways. Be that all as it may, personal experience has taught me that taking responsibility for our physical selves opens the door for God to teach us what's really important, even if physical well being isn't it.
  • "If ye love me, keep my commandments" is important, but let's remember that many of the commandments we see as so very important are the commandments of men. For instance, because of prohibition, the Church went through a phase where the fact that we didn't drink alcohol was no longer sufficient to demonstrate to the world that we were proper Christians, so we started coming up with all kinds of other rules we'd live by, such as not using face cards. The scriptures say nothing about having a year's supply of food, and the "if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear" statements talk about other things entirely. So yes, let's be obedient, but to God's commandments, including those that come directly to us through the Spirit, and not to the commandments of various men.
  • "Make the Church and the restored gospel your whole life, not just a part of your outward or social life. Choosing this day whom you will serve is lip service only—until you actually live accordingly." This statement presupposes "the Church and the restored gospel" are synonymous with the Lord whom Joshua said his house would serve. Rather than choosing the Church as a proxy for Christ (you could also call it an "idol"), let's just make Christ the center of our whole life, and see what happens.
  • Repentance is important, but I'm not sure it means what we think it means. We sometimes think we're supposed to pray for forgiveness for every misdeed we've ever done, but that obviously doesn't work because we can't remember 'em all. Moreover, the Lord regularly forgave people the entirety of their sins, wholesale. To "repent" means to turn to God, and to "sin" means to miss the mark, so "repenting of your sins" essentially means to focus on God, not to pray daily for forgiveness for each of the day's specific sins.
    • Repentance in any form is essential, even if we've gotten the general idea a bit wrong, because it encourages the humility and teachability the Lord looks for.
  • I have nothing to add to his comments on forgiving.
  • Speaking of trials he seems again to channel Lectures on Faith #6.
  • "Yours is the privilege, if you want it, to come to know for yourself, today or soon, that you are pleasing God in spite of your shortcomings." Here again, he figures you get the knowledge just by wanting it, and whereas last time he used the word "confidence", now he uses "knowledge." We only get that from the Lord when He tells us in His voice that we'll be exalted.
    • "After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shall be exalted. When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter.' To receive the other Comforter is to have Christ appear to him and to see the visions of eternity." (TPJS p. 149-151, quoted in Mormon Doctrine)

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