A 2nd century Alexandrian Scholar named Origen (185-253 A.D.) was one of the last Christian writers to teach about the pre-mortal existence of man. His writings of it are close to the truth, but with slight variation. He taught that we all lived with Father in Heaven in purity, and that we all made choices, and the devil rebelled against God and was thrust out. We all fell from our pure state except Christ. The most wicked became devils, the more righteous became angels, and the rest of us were sent to earth with a physical body as a punishment. But God so loved us, that he sent His son down to this earth to give us a second chance. Interesting idea, eh? It’s amazing how easily truths can be distorted over time if there’s not revelation and a living prophet to teach correct doctrine.
In Alma chapter 5, Alma gives one of his most famous sermons on having a “mighty change of heart” and receiving His image in our countenances.
He also mentions in that sermon, the “Bands of Death” and the “Chains of Hell”. What do these phrases mean, and what could they symbolize? I’d like to share my thoughts on the subject.
The Bands of Death
The bands of death represent the physical death we will experience. I picture a thick rubber band in my mind, although I’m sure Alma had a different image. The point is, the band is breakable, and has been broken. Who broke it and what does it mean? Christ broke the bands of death when he was resurrected. Because the bands are broken, death is now overcome. All of us will one day rise again after our physical death and receive a resurrected body. This is a free gift to all regardless of what we do in this life. That is why the band is broken, not simply stretched or loosed. The effects are permament.
The Chains of Hell
The chains of hell, on the other hand are not as breakable. In fact, in this analogy, they are never broken at all – only loosed. These chains refer to the bondage of our sin, and the effects of the atonement. Unlike the universal gift of resurrection given regardless of our performance, the atonement is only effectual to those who have faith and repent of their sins. In this way, the chains can be loosed and we can become free of our sins, but the chains are still there to grasp us again if we fall once more into sin. (Or I suppose you could also think of loosing the chains, and stepping out of their grasp, but if you fall into sin again, you’ll get re-lassoed.) It is all up to us whether we want to sin and be in chains, or repent and have them loosed. I suppose we can consider ourselves free from them completely after the Judgment (officially broken?).
Before I tell this story, let me preface by saying I’m a terrible singer. I don’t feel bad about that, because I’ve never really liked to sing. I don’t listen to music often for that matter. When I was a teenager, we were asked to volunteer to sing as a stake youth choir for an upcoming Stake Conference. I fulfilled my duty by going. During practice they moved me to new seats a few times probably hoping to minimize the sounds that were coming from my direction. When the the first practice was over I asked what time the next practice was, and was told they had enough people and I really didn’t need to come back if I didn’t want to. They continued to ask for volunteers the following weeks. Don’t worry, I wasn’t offended in the slightest!
Now, to a mission experience. I had learned in MTC and Missionairy Training Manual that hymns were a great method of inviting the spirit. Some time within my first few months of my mission, were were visiting and investigator – Emily. She was visibly upset when we arrived. She had decided to be baptized but was not able to quit smoking. She said she wanted to give up and asked us not to come back anymore. We had dealt with previous episodes and went throught the usual routine of comforting here and giving her encouragement. This time, nothing we could say seemed to be of any use.
Continue reading Did You Think To Sing
There are many symbolisms of the sacrifice of the Savior in the story of Abraham and his son, Isaac. Not only is it similar in that a son was being sacrificed, but consider these points:
- Abraham had to travel a three day journey to get to Moriah, the place where the Lord
commanded him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac (Gen 22:2). This is also the location of the Lord’s sacrifice for us all — Jerusalem’s Temple Mount (2 Chr 3:1).
- Isaac carried the wood for the offering as Christ carried his own cross.
- Lambs slain on the altar of the Temple were slain on the north side (Lev 1:11). Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified, is on the north side of
the ridge of Moriah.
There are many other symbolisms between Abraham’s sacrifice and the Lords, and Abraham certainly recognized the symbolism as he called the place “Jehova-jireh” (Gen 22:14, John 8:56), meaning “the Lord shall be seen, or the Lord shall be provided.”
Christ hath trodden the winepress alone. (Isaiah 63:3, D&C 76:107). As obvious as it seems to me now, I never really understood the meaning of the phrase. I think I could also put it in these words: “Christ smashed the grapes by himself.”
Quoting from “Gethsemane” by Andrew C. Skinner:
Anciently, winepresses and olive presses were sometimes used interchangeably. Several people would get into the press, and a rock-lined pit with a mosaic or plaster floor, and, holding onto one another, smash the grapes or olives with their feet until the fruit turned into a thick pulp. Unless one held onto others in the press, it was almost impossible to lift one’s feet in the thick sludge to tromp the grapes into juice. It also became very slippery, and without others in the press to hang onto for support, it was very easy to fall. Thus, when the Savior says he trod the winepress alone, he means that at a certain point in Gethsemane no one was there to help him through his ordeal. Ironically, in a place named for an activity that required several participants, one Man suffered for all men. (p.118)
The “falling away” described by Paul in our King’s James version of the Bible has an original Greek meaning that is quite different from the gradual, natural drifting into apostasy that we usually interpret the phrase to mean. The falling away in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 comes from the Greek word apostasia, which is also where we get our English word apostasy from. It is constructed from two Greek roots: the verb histemi, “to stand,” and the preposition apo, “away from.”
The word means “rebellion,” “mutiny,” “revolt,” or “revolution,” and is quite a bit stronger than we normally think. And while the great apostasy did happen gradually, people certainly did rise up against early Christianity and seek to replace its leaders and put to silence its doctrines (as in a mutiny or revolution). There was an apostasy, and for most of the world, it still continues today. (see also Acts 20:29-31, 2 Timothy 4:2-3, 2 Peter 2:1-3, Revelation 13:1-9)
My mother-in-law gave our daughter an early Christmas present last night. It was a Little People Nativity Set. I think part of the reason was to keep the grand-kids from playing with her fragile nativity set. Early this morning my daugher had it all set up on the family room floor with everyone staring at baby Jesus.
I noticed while trying to find a picture of the nativity set online that it was sold out already on Amazon. That’s pretty impressive! But if you’re dying to add to your children’s Little People collection. You can always give them some Mini Missionaries. 😀
My friend send me this classic Cheers segment:
Rebecca: “Oh, why can’t more men send flowers?”
Sam: “I didn’t know Mormons couldn’t send flowers.”
Rebecca: “I said ‘more men’, not ‘Mormons’.”
Sam: “I know they can’t dance.”
Norm: “No Sammy, that’s the uh, that’s the Amish.”
Sam: “Wh… Why can’t Mormons send flowers.”
Rebecca: “They can.”
Sam: “What are ya talking about.”
Rebecca: “I just wish someone would send me some [dang] roses.”
Sam: “Why does it have to be a Mormon?”
Sam: “Some people you just can’t discuss religion…”