Cleave Unto Every Good Thing

Moroni 7 (Moroni 7)

The first thing that draws my attention in this chapter is the idea of God calling or choosing us, not us choosing Him. “Many are called, but few are chosen.” But there is more to it than this, and here Mormon is reminding me of this:

…it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and his holy will, because of the gift of his calling unto me, that I am permitted to speak unto you at this time.

Verse 2 (emphasis added)

In the movie “Amazing Grace,” there is conversation between William Wilberforce and his butler, Richard, where the butler asks him: “You found God, sir?” And Wilberforce’s response is something like: “Actually, I think He found me.” It’s that flip, that switch in recognizing Who is reaching out to who. And if we’re comparing distances, efforts, and realities, the Spirit seems to affirm to me this truth, that it is “his holy will, because of the gift of his calling unto me.”

I have been feeling this more and more lately, that it is not me who is choosing to follow God (thought by all means I still have my agency to act or be miserable). Rather the truth is that God is finding me. And the weight and significance of such suggests to my mind a God who is more involved, dynamic, and caring about the details of my existence. He is not a passive player, absently hoping for some fruits at the end of time to gather and take home.

In a very similar vein, jumping ahead to verse 24, we read about all good originating with God. I added the following footnote on Monday, April 10, while I sat waiting for my daughter at the dentist office (raunchy country music blaring in my ears):

The wording here is key. “No good thing could come to them.” All good comes from God; it’s impossible to do good except it be revealed from God. Good doesn’t originate from us. It comes from God. Do you realize the pressure that takes off of us? Do you realize the necessity that this places on us to seek God constantly, frequently? Woe. We don’t come to God, God comes to us.

Personal footnote on verse 24

Then two verses later I added the following thought:

In a way, we are a lot like solar panels. We just need to be facing the light to have the energy or power we need. Our faith is that we will turn to face Christ, the light that is in Christ.

Personal footnote on verse 26

This idea of God finding us, or coming to us is taught plainly by the Christ:

If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

John 14:23

The footnotes on this verse are also quite instructive.

John 14:23—The appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse, is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.

Doctrine and Covenants 130:3

And this promise takes me full circle in this thought process (D&C 93:1).

A new morning and I am brought back to the beginning of the chapter, reflecting upon the trifecta attributes of faith, hope, and charity. The Spirit of the Lord compels me to consider once more Ether 12:4 in its entirety:

Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.

Ether 12:4

Mormon is therefore defining his audience as such:

  1. the peaceable followers of Christ
  2. those who have obtained to a sufficient hope that they can already enter into his rest (which is to my mind is a state of preparation for when Christ will come again in the flesh, or the paradise of God which comes after death, which ever comes first.).

Discerning Good from Evil

Early in this chapter is perhaps one of the most extensive, introspective discussions on what makes something good and what makes something evil. What is true is that ultimately, everyone is required to be judge for themselves. (Though some seem to be able to do this much better than others.)

I must remind myself again of Mormon’s audience: the peaceable followers of Christ. It is to these beloved brethren that Mormon is now giving instruction as to how to discern good from evil.

Offering gifts (free will offerings to another), like prayers, done with real intent only, these things benefit the man. (See vs. 6)

But what are the “things” of which we judge to be good or evil? They are not people. But what things are those that can even possess the attributes of being good or evil. We are not talking about inanimate objects. Those things seldom possess good or evil properties. That they can be of a certain quality to be judged to be good or bad, yes. But God is not chiefly concerned with the quality of the inanimate. These things that we are judging seem to be more events-based. Actions, not people, are the things that we are judging.

These earlier verses talk of men being good or evil, and that effecting their actions. But I feel that this is given as a means of self-introspection.

Am I a bitter fountain? If not, then where are my good fruits?

What are examples of good things that invite or entice me to do good?

And thus it is by faith that we obtain to every good thing. What are these good things? They are events, actions, experiences. These things come of faith and consequently, we say that this strengthens our faith. Good experiences then point us closer to Christ.

This is a significant point for me for the focus is on faith and building faith, not on money and working to obtain money. Our efforts prepare us to follow Christ.

Mormon is stating repeated that we are to judge according to the light of Christ. For some reason, I was under the assumption that we are to judge according to the gift and power of the Holy Ghost. But that is not its purpose. There is a difference, subtle as it may seem, between the light or spirit of Christ and the gift and power of the Holy Ghost. But it is by the Light of Christ that we are to judge.

I don’t know that I have had great experience recognizing the Light of Christ in my life, or judging by that light, which everyone has access to, by the way.

The Light of Christ vs. the Holy Ghost

Realizing that there is more here to understand about the Light of Christ than I have previously understood, and that I’ve perhaps misaligned my understanding of the Holy Ghost.

Light of ChristHoly Ghost
– the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. (John 1:9)
– the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; (Moroni 7:16)
the Holy Ghost … is a personage of Spirit (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22)
ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; (Moroni 7:19)how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost? Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; (2 Nephi 32:2-3)
the Spirit [which] giveth light to every man that cometh into the world (D&C 84:46)the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do. (2 Nephi 32:5)
the light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed (D&C 88:13)But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)

I am contemplating what the light of Christ is in my life. I am beginning to think that his influence is so universal that it is easy taken for granted as an expected condition of our daily lives. Just as we expect the sun to always rise, we expect man to be in possession of a moral conscience.

The Light of Christ, by Boyd K. Packer

It may be erroneous to compare the Spirit/Light of Christ to the Holy Ghost. Both work together to accomplish the purposes of the Lord. They are more companion forces, and are never in opposition to each other.

Today I am in verse 11, contemplating a good fountain of water verses a bitter one. I have read recently about the dire importance of good and pure water sources. Water is so easily contaminated. Then there is a footnote that points to Proverbs 13:14: “The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.”

Am I reticent to assign certain fruits or actions to the devil, when in reality they are? (See vs. 17)

Is the capacity to judge a direct result of agency?

I really want someone to spell out what is good and what is bad for me. But that is the point. That is the work. That is the purpose for our existence and that is why we must be tempted and tried.

I have been drawn to the idea of the abstract concepts being given here which make this chapter so universally accessible. I’m also this morning drawn to the idea that good can be uncomfortable or cause us to grow, and that sort of good would be very easy to discount as being bad because it i s also uncomfortable. Now, here too is where the light of Christ is a very powerful tool because it can be used to understand things that would cause us to stretch and grow, and to recognize such.

For the past several days, I have been deeply moved to consider that the only battle that is ultimately to be fought is the battle that is within my own self. I’ve started back at the beginning of the chapter and am considering how Mormon as speaker is speaking from the convictions of his own personal, internal struggles and experience. He is in the midst of that internal conflict, while everything externally that surrounds him is falling apart. Those that are called to our positions of leadership are those who are (generally speaking, not specifically) actively engaged in that battle for their own selves.

This is the space that Christ is interested in occupying, and it is the same space that satan is warring to win if he can. This is where peace resides, deep and everlasting, if we can scrub the walls, pull the weeds, and cultivate the garden that is within.

The craziest part about this deepest of all personal struggles that is internal and keenly intimate is that into that sacred and exclusive space, we can allow a connection with the greatest external forces of the universe. The very POWERS who create and govern all life that we can visibly see and comprehend, and beyond. Here are the Gods of the universe and they will come to us if we open that door to our souls.

Post thought: (after prayer) I’ve gone deeper into my own self this morning that I have in a long time. There are almost not words to describe what’s happening therein. But that internal space, this is where the house keeping is to take place. I must move on, but I don’t want to forget what I’m building here, and for Whom I am building.

I’m trying to understand this internal realm better. But the reality is that what we are dealing with is Spiritual in nature. There are some things which are not at all physical, but more often than not, the two realms are interwoven and linked together in ways that are very real.

(Part of me feels like I’m reading a set of scriptures that have nothing to do with the current spiritual instruction and thoughts processes that I am having, but as I progress through these verses, the verses themselves support my thought processes and so I’m realizing that there are layers beyond, though not written are still correlated and connected.)

Sometimes God communicates through angels, sometimes He communicates directly with prophets. Here is a tether point in verse 24, that there are divers ways and means in which God manifests things unto the children of men. In other words, there are many ways in which the Spiritual (God) connects to our physical world. These things exist as a proof of his coming and communication with us.

(Stopped at the end of verse 25) Faith is not belief, but is described in terms of absolute ability to do good. Clearly, I don’t understand this.

Reading about how men are saved by faith in Christ. The word “saved” has typically been a flat word for me. An event. A judgment. But suddenly this morning as I contemplate faith being used to lay hold on every good thing, and how that it very much a process. Being saved suddenly sounds like a direction I’m going in, layers upon layers of looking and searching for the good. Building upon what has already been learned. There is no way then that being saved can be a one-time event. I will know that I am moving in the right direction.

As I move from verses 25 to 27, on the surface this seems like a incongruous series of statements.

  • and thus by faith, they did lay hold upon every good thing;
  • men also were saved by faith in his name; and by faith, they become the sons of God.
  • Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you.
  • Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath sat down on the right hand of God, to claim of the Father his rights of mercy which he hath upon the children of men

Listing them out by this side by side, doesn’t feel quite as incongruous, but it’s this notion of being saved that is inserted in the middle of this discussion on laying hold of every good thing, that at first was very jarring to me. It seemed to me like we were going back and forth between two unrelated topics of “being saved” and “searching for truth/good”, when in reality, Mormon is talking about the same thing, which is both things:

Being saved = searching for truth/good.

And if this is God’s plan to save humanity, why would he not still employ miraculous means of revealing truth to men?

God purposely gives us valleys so that we can learn to build bridges that are suspended by the grace of His Son, Jesus Christ, one tether point at a time.

“Godliness” is the word of the day. And I first go to the scripture that states: in the ordinances thereof is the power of godliness made manifested. And building on my conclusions from yesterday’s study that salvation and perfection are built upon principles of progress, learning and searching for truth, godliness must have everything to do with the power to grow and develop. So if I’m really trying to understand what ordinances do for us, they in a very real sense act as those tethering points where we stay connected to Christ and his mercy, as we continue to grow and progress and evolve.

For several mornings now, I have reviewed the TG passages on Godliness in their several forms. Godliness is progress and growth, and it is so desirable. Seen in the context of growth and progress, not sterility or perfectionism; this is power.

Faith and Miracles Are Not Random Acts of Divine Whim

One of the things that I’ve been contemplating is the absolute statements of fact associated with Mormon’s declarations on faith and miracles. (See vs. 37 & 38)

Faith exists among men because we have a choice. What seem like miracles to us, are merely truth acting in spheres that are unseen. Christ can produce bread out of thin air, not because he is a magician, but because he understand eternal laws by which such things can be realized.

Plants just grow because they are perfectly obedient to the laws under which they are placed. Man can only grow if he chooses by faith to follow the same laws of eternal truth. Plants and animals don’t have their agency, but they stand constantly as a witness of the light, a witness of growth, a witness of God and His plan for all things.

Over in 2 Peter 3, I am brought to consider a single phrase “Grow in grace” (vs. 18).

But what are miracles? One definition online says that it is “a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.” (Google/Oxford) I appreciate this definition, especially the part about miracles being a result of divine agency. However, I would probably alter the part that states that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws to state simply that it is not explicable by “known” natural or scientific laws.

Faith produces miracles. Matthew 13:58 simply states how this works: “And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” Miracles are mighty works. Faith produces mighty works. Works that are unexplainable to the natural man. (That a man can own his own home at age 40 without having stable employment and income is a mighty work indeed; I realize that I have a bit of a track record with this sort of thing.)

No Hope Without Faith; None Acceptable Save the Meek

Another way of looking at this is, that without faith to do the work that is required, there is no hope of arriving at the intended destination.

Then Mormon makes this almost startling observation that none are acceptable before God save the meek and lowly in heart. I’ve consider the following:

The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.

Psalms 25:9

But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

Psalms 37:11

So, if we are teachable (i.e. meek) then we shall be guided, inherit the earth, and delight ourselves in the abundance of peace. I was contemplating this last point recently, realizing what profound blessings are mine in this thing.

I am reviewing again verses 39-41 this morning. I’ve been struggling as I am contemplating the next steps and phase of repentance, but as I come back to these verse, I realize that the struggle becomes much more manageable if I can remember that if I have faith in Christ, then he can offer the instruction that I need and the enabling power to bridge what needs to be supported. Faith in Christ is the answer to my struggles.

Yesterday (June 2), I read verse 44 in Spanish and followed the footnote on “confess” which was different than in English. It took me to the Guide to the Scriptures entry for “Confess, Confession” and caused me to realize that we use the word in two very distinct ways. The way that I was brought to consider was this: confess – to manifest or declare faith in something. This is like a testimony, and this is how it is being employed here in verse 44.

But then I was brought to consider other passages that make similar use of the word such as Romans 10, and then I found myself consuming the whole of the chapter in Romans. I’ve just revisited Romans 10, and found in verse10 the use of the word “confession” but really the meaning is that of “testimony” as it was used also in verse 9.

All this causes me to consider the weight and importance of sharing testimony, confessing the Truth (Jesus Christ) by power of the Holy Ghost.

(Study continued in separate post)

Leave a comment