Symproto

Immediate Reward and Punishment

Oct
23

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matt. 5:45)

 

“None of the righteous has obtained a reward quickly, but waits for it; for if God should pay the recompense of the righteous speedily, we should immediately be training ourselves in commerce and not in godliness; for we should seem to be righteous when we were pursuing not piety but gain.” (II Clement XX, 3, 4.)

Is it not true of the wicked also? Were the wicked to be immediately punished for their deeds, then they would learn to be righteous, not for the sake of righteousness itself; rather to avoid the immediate punishment, thus losing our free will.

“But because man is possessed of free will from the beginning, and God is possessed of free will, in whose likeness man was created, advice is always given to him to keep fast the good, which thing is done by obedience to God.” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, IV, 4.)

“God has always preserved freedom, and the power of self-government in man, while at the same time He issued His own exhortations, in order that those who do not obey Him should be righteously judged because they have not obeyed Him; and that those who obeyed and believed on Him should be honoured in immortality.” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, IV, 15,2.)

“The commandments given to man may be viewed as questions because man is free. I obey not because I must but because I will. The Lord wants me, even me, to be his companion. ‘Can two walk together, except they be agreed?’ (Amos 3:3.) As I hearken and obey, as I quickly respond, I show my desire to be in agreement with Him.” (Rasmussen, Dennis, The Lord’s Question, 7.)

If God were to reward or punish immediately, there would be no room for development; and after all, is that not why were are here in the first place?

 

What is the “Promise of Moses?”

Oct
20

Yea, thus prophesied Joseph: I am sure of this thing, even as I am sure of the promise of Moses.”

(2 Nephi 3:16, The Book of Mormon.)

The Book of Mormon prophet, Lehi, prophetically blessed his child Joseph, who was born in the wilderness, that his posterity “shall not utterly be destroyed.” (2 Nephi 3:3.)

To emphasis this point, Lehi calls upon the record of Joseph, who was sold into Egypt. Lehi relates that Joseph was sure that his posterity would be preserved, just as sure as he was foreseeably sure of the “promise of Moses.”

So what is the “promise of Moses” that Joseph saw in the future? The answer is found in the Exodus:

Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments:

And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the Lord. (Exodus 6:6-8)

The Promise of Moses:

  1. Removed from Bondage.
  2. Redeemed.
  3. Covenant to be God’s People.
  4. Inherit the Promised Land.

And how did Joseph know anything about Moses?

And the Lord hath said: I will raise up a Moses; and I will give him power in a rod.” (2 Nephi 3:17.)

Was the Bible Written by Man?

Oct
10

“Scripture is the most important tradition that man can have, and yet how few people make use of it. Instead they read the news.” (Rasmussen, Dennis, The Lord’s Questions, pg. 31.)

An acquaintance of mine recently went on a social media rant about how supportive he is of all people and how he does not judge anyone. Not seeing the irony, he then proceeded to wail against anything religious, how all religions judge, how foolish religion is and my favorite, how the Bible was “written by man.” To drive the point home he capitalized the word MAN followed by an obnoxious amount of exclamation points (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).

Practically speaking I do not disagree with the idea that the Bible was written by man. In fact, I defy anyone to produce a text of anything – scientific, religious, historical, or any subject matter that wasn’t written by man. However, I don’t really think that was his argument. What I think he was trying to articulate, albeit incredibly poorly, was that in his opinion the Bible is not inspired by God through man.

This argument is nothing new, and in my mind certainly didn’t require the abuse of the exclamation point. Was the Bible inspired by God, or was it invented by the minds of men? It’s an incredibly important question that all honest seekers of truth should take seriously. It is for that very reason that I am a student of the Bible. I read the Bible, study different translations from the Greek to the Hebrew and I test the teachings and promises made. I know the history, the changes made, what was left out – what was added in. This has been, and will continue to be a lifetime pursuit.

On the New Testament:

“Today the fact is evident, that there are many differences in the manuscripts, either through negligence of certain copyists, or the perverse audacity of some in correcting the text.” (Daniel-Rops, L’Eglise des Apotres et des Martyrs, p. 313.)

But does the fact that there are differences in the texts, suggest that we should not consider them at all? More importantly, should we discount the testimonies all together? 

“Though the New Testament books were written without plan for the whole, and as particular circumstances demanded, and do not contain the ‘fulness of the gospel,’ nevertheless, they cannot be explained by any other hypothesis other than that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that the apostles were true witnesses of His resurrection.” (Barker, James, Apostasy From the Divine Church, p. 15.)

I often wonder if opponents of the Bible put in as much work to know if it’s the word of God. What a difference it is to hear someone argue: “I have studied and read and tested, but it just isn’t for me,” vs. “I’ve never really read it because I don’t want to waste my time on nonsense.” I can respect the opinion of the first line of thinking, because an honest effort was made. Unfortunately, I think too many people dismiss the Bible without giving it a fair shake, without really studying it. In my opinion, it is one thing to say that you don’t have any interest in it, and another to condemn an entire group of people because you know better – even though you haven’t really studied it, because it was written by man and is not scientific!

“The testimonies of the prophets leave to others the task of teaching about the world of common experience. Man’s natural curiosity is sufficient for his science. The teachings of the prophets comes from beyond the world, and it appeal not to science but to conscience.” (Rasmussen, Dennis, The Lord’s Questions, pg. 25.)

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39.)

Firstfruits

Sep
29

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

The word “beginning” is an interesting one, as it is placed here, and is the purpose of the study today. In the Hebrew the word translated as beginning is rêʼshîyth meaning: the first, in place, time, order or rank (specifically, a firstfruit):—beginning, chief(-est), first(-fruits, part, time), principal thing. The Hebrew word is translated 11 times in the Old Testament as firstfruit.

Therefore, Genesis 1:1 could be translated: As the firstfruits, God created the Heaven and Earth.

What is a firstfruit? The Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828 edition, defines firstfruit as:

  1. The fruit or produce first matured and collected in any season. Of these the Jews made an oblation to God, as an acknowledgment of his sovereign dominion.
  2. The first profits of any thing. In the church of England, the profits of every spiritual benefice for the first year.
  3. The first or earliest effect of any thing, in a good or bad sense; as the first-fruits of grace in the heart, or the first-fruits of vice. (Link)

The BibleDictionary states a firstfruit as “Regarded as belonging to God, and offered by the nation as a whole at the great feasts.”

It is clear then from the scripture, that the earth is God’s, as the “first or principle thing.” Israel was commanded to offer, as an oblation to God, an offering of the firstfruit of the land, as a symbol of their willingness to recognize that all things belong to God, who created the earth:

The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the Lord thy God. (Exodus 34:26.)

As for the oblation of the firstfruits, ye shall offer them unto the Lord. (Leviticus 2:12.)

Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase. (Proverbs 3:9.)

Later, after His sacrifice, death and resurrection, Christ was called the firstfruit:

For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. (Romans 11:16.)

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. (1 Corinthians 15:20.)

But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. (1 Corinthians 15:23.)

Combine this idea with what took place next:

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. (Genesis 1:3.)

Who is the light of the world?

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12.)

So God created the earth and provided us a Savior, who offered Himself as a sacrifice to God for us. The firstborn, who was then raised from the dead, the firstfruits of our Father in heaven. In return, we honor the Father and His Son by accepting the Fatherhood of the Creator and obeying His words.