What I wish to present is referred to as the Law of Restoration in conjunction with the question of “who will i be in eternity?” I studied this last week, and over the course of the past few days, through additional study and prayer, I have begun to understand the profound simplicity, beauty and love of our Father in Heaven that this doctrine represents.
Imagine, if you will, that you are in the presence of your Heavenly Father, God Himself before you were born. In that pre-existent state, you recognized that many of the things God spoke of were beyond your ability to understand. You had no reference to “mortality” or having a physical body or the mighty battle attendant to subduing the appetites of the flesh.
Fast forward to the time when THE Plan was presented for our sojourn on this earth – to gain a body of flesh and bones. Abraham 3:24-25
24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
I think all Christian denominations agree that our time in mortality is a time of trial, testing and proving of ourselves. Were it not so, there would be no law given, there would be no punishment because there was no law, and there would thus be no need for an Atonement because there was no punishment from which to be rescued, nor justice for which a price must be paid. (See Alma 42)
So if this is a time of “testing” to see if we love Him enough to choose Him and His will, above our own desires, I think most would agree in general that the reward for such will be “Heaven” – the discussion of what “Heaven” is, we will save for another time 🙂
If we agree on the above, then my starting point for this post is this statement: I do not believe that this “test” on earth is structured as “pass/fail” – meaning, I believe the outcome will be far more varied than just a binary “heaven or hell.” I believe, based on my study of the scriptures, that, in fact, the outcome is multi-dimensional and inner-dependent. By this I submit that while “heaven or hell” may appropriately be a designation of “location,” it will also and dependently be a designation of “state of being” – and this is the crux of this post.
WHO will you be in eternity? What will be YOUR state of being? I don’t mean the state of the “righteous” or the “wicked” in general, but rather YOUR state of being – MY state of being – specifically.
I submit that this very short video Free Forever, to Act for Themselves gives us some important insight into that answer. “God will not act to make us something we do not choose, by our actions, to become. Truly He loves us, and because He loves us, He neither compels, nor abandons us.” Elder D. Todd Christofferson.
Think about that! He will only act to make us what we CHOOSE (by our actions) to become! He will not COMPEL NOR ABANDON us! How is THAT for the supreme loving approach to giving us our free agency?! Do you understand what that means?! Do you grasp the weight of that truth?!
How can He do that?! How can He, if He loves us so much, seemingly let us run amok?! I think we can all agree that we are literally children in eternity and immature (compared to Him) on the weighty matters of Eternal Life. Were I to have told my 12yr old son at the time, “you’re free to choose however you wish to live and i’ll help you go whatever direction you choose for yourself” can you imagine the train-wreck my son would have quite likely created in his life at that age?! No school, no church, no chores – just video games, junk food and tv, and sleeping in an endless cycle! (ok maybe not that bad, but it would certainly be possible!).
The TRUTH is that while He has given us that COMPLETE freedom of choice – He has also given us His loving and perfect counsel on how to navigate our journey with full success. We have a roadmap, we have counsel, we have guides, we have communications with Him…we in fact, have EVERYTHING we could possibly need to succeed in this “test.”
God’s designed plan includes these important characteristics: 1 -Our free agency – which is absolute. 2 – Opposition in all things – critical component for success. 3 – Redemption from sin made possible by Christ’s loving Atonement. 4 -Because of His PERFECT LOVE, God’s desire for us to become that which WE desire most to become = Law of Restoration.
1. Free agency. Were it not for our right to choose, this would be no test at all. We could prove nothing. It is our very freedom of choice that guarantees that EACH of us will be the author of our eternity.
2. Opposition in ALL things. How can you make the statement that you love your family more than anything else, if there is never a time when you must choose family over something else? The answer is – you can’t. So God, in His wisdom, gave us opposition. This is what created “the choices” we are given to make. This opposition IS what creates the test. The fact that there are choices to be made which demonstrate that we love HIM more than we love our own desires, IS THE TEST. It’s brilliant! Once a person recognizes this, it changes their view of life, it enhances their ability to see clearly their decisions and motives and deepest desires…all of which leads to US determining WHO we will be eternally.
5 And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever.
8 Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.
10 And because of the intercession for all, all men come unto God; wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be judged of him according to the truth and holiness which is in him. Wherefore, the ends of the law which the Holy One hath given, unto the inflicting of the punishment which is affixed, which punishment that is affixed is in opposition to that of the happiness which is affixed, to answer the ends of the atonement—
11 For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.
12 Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God.
13 And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.
14 And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.
15 And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbiddenfruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter.
3. Redemption. This is the key and majestic and divine beauty of the entire plan for us. Since we are all children in eternity. Since we are mortal, have a spiritual veil over our eyes and cannot recall our pre-existence with God – we will, by necessity, stumble (some of us more than others) and wander from the God we love. This is a fact. This cannot be changed. It also means that by violating God’s laws, we would all be lost, were it not for the Atonement of Christ. The concept of an “atonement” is beautiful on its own merits – but that this Atonement was made by the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, God’s Only Begotten Son (John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”) makes this part of the plan, the most Divine and beautiful component of all eternity. We LITERALLY NEED HIM in order to have any hope of eternal life – of BECOMING and BEING divinely happy…as He is.
4. Law of Restoration – All of this leads to the reality that I believe escapes most of us, most of the time. We are NOT trying to achieve a certain score in this “test of life” which would then qualify us for “heaven.” Christ gave the admonition, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48) – how is that possible? Many will say that is not possible at all. Others will presume a reason it is not possible is they interpret “perfect” to mean “error free.” Neither of these is correct. A discussion of what perfection means should also be tabled for another time, but this much is true – Christ (and thus God) intend for us to BECOME as they are. Become = a state of being. When you die, if you die as one who is unforgiving and holds grudges – do you suppose that trait will somehow be changed so that you suddenly being a forgiving spirit? That cannot be. What you BECOME in this life, you WILL BE when you enter the next. Let THAT truth settle inside of you!
Alma 41: 10-15:
10 Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness.
11 And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness.
13 O, my son, this is not the case; but the meaning of the word restoration is to bring back again evil for evil, or carnal for carnal, or devilish for devilish—good for that which is good; righteous for that which is righteous; just for that which is just; merciful for that which is merciful.
14 Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again.
This, my friends, is the GAME CHANGER. Imagine if every soul fully recognized and understood that the purpose of mortality is not to earn your way back to heaven (for that cannot be done) but rather that you are here, specifically to prove to yourself, by your own decisions, what it is that YOU WANT THE MOST. Once you have made that decision (Joshua 24:15, “…choose you this day whom ye will serve;…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”) THEN you must do all in your power to live to that decision. No one can argue that the more fully you keep the commandments, and by so doing demonstrate your love for Jesus Christ, you will as a matter of natural consequence, BECOME more like Him.
Can you see it?! The simplicity and beauty of His plan? Of His counsels?
You are the author of who you will be in eternity. So many “wish” people were kinder, more forgiving, selfless, service minded, happy, cheerful, honest, filled with integrity, true, compassionate, etc – yet the way they treat others runs in the face of, and betrays those very thoughts.
I personally know a man, who out of greed imposed the most outrageous penalties within the clauses of a personal loan – to the tune of 3500% after fighting for a court to rule in his favor! That’s an actual number! When asked why he was doing this, his response was, “I am doing this for two reasons, one, because you are desperate, and two, because I can.” I would ask anyone reading this, does that sound like the words reflecting the heart of a true Christian? Yet this same man ends nearly all communications with “God bless you.” Though he may have legal grounds for what he does, he is a perfect example of “becoming” something less than he desires of those around him. To profess one sentiment, yet to live down to another.
I wish that all men, everywhere, could understand the truth of the Law of Restoration, and the divine Plan of Redemption – because those truths will lead us home to Him, and to peace, protection, and happiness along the way.
I KNOW that Jesus Christ lives today as a resurrected being. I KNOW of His love for me, and for you…and even for that man I just referenced. I also know, that in order to partake of His love, and find the peace each of us wants, we must do as He admonished when He said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15. Only then can we gain access to the healing powers of His Atonement. Only then can His love penetrate us fully, and the strengthening powers of His Atonement lift us to a higher capacity to overcome “our thoughts, our desires” (Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”). Only when we fully submit our will to His will we find that which we profess we desire – otherwise, we are on a path to become less than we profess, and positioning ourselves for something less than a fullness of eternity.
So, when you leave this life, remember, that which you have become, starting with your heart, is that to which you will be restored in eternity.