Friday, May 22, 2009

Sustain or Oppose

Isn’t it interesting to note, that anytime someone is given a calling in church, it is announced over the pulpit and, as a congregation, we are asked to “sustain” or “oppose” the call. This act, that might seem insignificant to some, is really a great way to “jog our memory” or teach us about the pre-existence.

Despite what is sometimes taught for truth, there really was only one plan when it came to our salvation and progression on this earth. That one plan was presented by God the Father. We were given a choice to either “sustain” or “oppose” that plan.

Daniel H. Ludlow explained:

“In the process of time each of our intelligences was clothed with a spiritual body by heavenly parents, and we became personages of spirit with bodies of eyes and ears and hands and feet. All of us on this earth had the same Father of our spiritual bodies, and because he lives in heaven, we have been rightfully taught to refer to him as “our Father in heaven.”

Our spirit bodies were capable of tremendous accomplishments, but they also had some serious limitations. There were some laws that they could not obey, and therefore there were some blessings not available to them. Thus, our Heavenly Father called us into a grand council in heaven where he proposed a plan that would give us further opportunities of growth and development by giving us further opportunities of choice. There the importance of moral free agency and its four necessary and essential conditions were explained to us: first, we must have the opportunity of choice—that is, the operation of law; second, there must be the possibility of the existence of opposites—good and evil, virtue and vice; these two make possible the third, the freedom of choice—that is, free agency; then finally, a knowledge of the law and its consequences. All four of these conditions are necessary in order to accomplish the progression that would enable us to become as our Father in heaven, which was the main purpose of the new earth plan that he proposed.

When we lived with our Father in heaven, we did not need to exercise a fullness of faith in whether or not he existed. We knew that he lived because we saw him; we walked and talked with him. We knew he existed and were convinced of his existence, but we were not necessarily converted to him and to his great principles because our knowledge of him had come from external sources without virtually any effort on our part. So that we would come to a knowledge of him in and of ourselves, our Heavenly Father proposed that when we came into this earth life a veil of forgetfulness would be placed over our minds so that we would not remember our pre-earthly existence with him. Only then could the choices that we made here upon this earth truly come from within us. Our Father in heaven then promised us that while we were here on earth he (1) would give us law, (2) would provide the possibility of opposites, (3) would give us free agency, and (4) would send angels and prophets to teach us and give us scriptures so we could learn the laws and understand why we should keep them. Thus, he promised us the necessary conditions on this earth so that we could become morally free.

The nature of law was more than likely explained in that pre-earthly council—that each law has consequences, opposite and equal. Whenever a law is kept or obeyed, the consequence is a blessing which results in joy or happiness. Whenever a law is broken or disobeyed, the consequence is a punishment that results in misery or unhappiness. This simple and perhaps over-generalized explanation of the law of justice portrays how order is accomplished, for in the payment of the law of either obedience or disobedience, the law is brought back into a state of balance and thus order prevails. The law of justice, then, always requires a payment.

But another law also operates in the moral realm—the law of mercy, which in no way robs or violates the law of justice but which makes possible the vicarious payment of broken law. For example, the law of mercy permits the disobedience of a person to be atoned for or paid for by the obedience of the Savior, providing that the person who disobeyed the law will cease being disobedient—in other words, providing that the person repents.

The great plan of salvation and exaltation must also have been explained to us including an explanation of why the possibility of opposition must exist upon the earth and how it would occur through the fall of man, how the law of justice would require a payment for the broken law and how the law of mercy would make the Atonement possible.

When this great plan was presented to us, it was soon evident that because of the Atonement and the principle of free agency, this earth life could become a great testing and proving period. If we proved faithful to all the laws given to us by our Heavenly Father, we would become even as he is and share with him his power and glory. Perhaps it was when we realized this that the “sons of God shouted for joy,” as recorded in the book of Job. (Job 38:7.)

There were some, however, in that pre-earthly council who did not shout for joy. They either lacked faith in our Heavenly Father, in the Savior, or in the gospel plan, or they lacked faith in their own ability or willingness to keep the law that would be given to them. Thus, they actively opposed the plan of our Heavenly Father. Their leader was called Lucifer, “the son of the morning”; he is also known as the devil or Satan.

Lucifer not only opposed the plan of our Heavenly Father, but he sought to amend and change the terms of salvation by denying men their free agency and by preempting our Heavenly Father. The exact words of Lucifer’s boast are contained in the book of Moses: “I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.” (Moses 4:1.)

We do not know all of the details of Lucifer’s amended proposal, but we do know from revelation that he “sought to destroy the agency of man.” (Moses 4:3.) This could be accomplished in many ways, including denying us either the opportunity of choice or the freedom of choice. In either case, not “one soul” would have been lost. It is sin that causes a soul to be lost, but how can a person sin if he does not have the opportunity to sin? That is, how can a person disobey a law if he does not have a law?

Lucifer’s proposed amendment appealed to some, but it did not appeal to any of us in this audience. We saw that under his plan we would lose the challenge of growth and progression. We did not want to live in a world where we would be on the same plane forever. We had enough faith in our Heavenly Father and in his plan, in Jesus Christ, and in ourselves that we wanted to live in a world where there would be opportunities for further development. At the same time I am sure we realized that if we were not faithful to these laws and opportunities we might even be worse off than we had been before.

Thus there was a great war in heaven, and a key issue in that war was whether or not man was to be a morally free agent while upon the earth. A vote was taken. (By the way, that in itself indicates that we had our free agency there; in a sense Lucifer exercised his free agency in an attempt to deny us the right to exercise our free agency.) Two-thirds of those present voted for the plan of our Heavenly Father; one-third voted against the plan and did not participate in it.”

Remember...there was only one plan, and it was presented by our Heavenly Father. Jesus Christ said He would sustain the plan, and Satan opposed the plan, or created opposition to the plan. We had the opportunity to “sustain” or “oppose” that plan just like they did. Because we have a body, we evidently “sustained” the plan set forth at that time. Today we still have the choice and obligation to “sustain” that plan. When we look at disobedience as “opposing” the plan, it puts our actions in a very different light, don’t you think?

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