Sunday, October 31, 2010

Moroni - Chapter 6

4And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost...
All my life I have been taught, and have thought that I was cleansed by the water of baptism.  This verse seems to indicate otherwise.  Here it seems that we are cleansed by the Holy Ghost after baptism.  In light of our discussion about the Sacrament for the past two days, this makes more sense to me.  We don't improve, grow or even approach goodness without the companionship of the Spirit.  Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve put it this way:
"If you have felt the influence of the Holy Ghost during this day, or even this evening, you may take it as evidence that the Atonement is working in your life.  For that reason would do well to put yourself in places and in tasks that invite the promptings of the Holy Ghost.  Feeling the influence of the Holy Ghost... cleanses us through the Atonement of Jesus Christ."  (Eyring, "Gifts of the Spirit for Hard Times," 4)
...relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.
How long and often I have relied upon my own merits, rather than those of Christ.  It is obvious that self reliance failed me.  I was 55 years old before I made this realization.  I had read this verse on repeated occasions over the years and still was trying to rely upon myself and my own power.  I can't imagine how I missed it.  As I was emerging from the bondage of addiction I read a book called He Did Deliver Me From Bondage by Colleen Harrison.  The book examined the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous in the light of The Book of Mormon.  I skipped the chapter on the Second Step:  Come to believe Jesus Christ can restore you to complete spiritual health.  I already believed that.  Later, when the 12 Steps seemed to have failed me, I went back and read that chapter.  In it Colleen described how she had, when reading the AA Big Book, skipped the chapter on step two as well.  It is entitled, to the agnostic.  I read both chapters and came to admit that I was indeed an agnostic.  I did not believe that the merits of Christ could save me.  I had been, therefore, attempting to save myself, having accepted no other recourse.  In fact there is no other recourse than to accept His merciful Atonement.  There is no other way.  He is the way!

Now quite often when I mention this to other members of the Church, I get resistance.  They take my claim to reliance upon the merits and mercy of Christ to mean that I no longer have to keep the commandments or serve in the church.  This is nonsense.  I still try with all my heart to keep His commandments because I love Him.  I know that the better I do that the happier I'll be; the more like Him I'll be.  I just understand that no matter how well I keep the commandments, it is not that effort that saves me.  Only Christ can do that.  Which takes me back to the first quote from verse four.  Keeping the commandments more perfectly involves the companionship of the Holy Ghost.  He will tell me all things that I should do.  Those, most personal and specific commandments, given of a daily, hourly, minute by minute basis are part of the process by which the Spirit works upon us and cleanses us.  The better I do that the more progress I make to emulating my Savior. I couldn't even begin such a process without the influence and meaning, the depth and scope, of His atoning sacrifice.

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