Tuesday, September 29, 2015

2 Nephi 25:16 "infinite atonement"

And after they have been scattered, and the Lord God hath scourged them by other nations for the space of many generations, yea, even down from generation to generation until they shall be persuaded to believe in Christ, the Son of God, and the atonement, which is infinite for all mankind

Tonight for scriptures we read from 2 Nephi 25. I stopped Caleb after this verse and asked "What does infinite mean?"

Caleb responded, "It means something that goes on and on."

That wasn't exactly the answer I had in mind, but seemed right so I asked, "So what is and infinite atonement?"

Nathaniel chimed in, clearly thinking about it on the fly, "An infinite atonement would be an atonement that never runs out. No matter how many times you sin, you can always repent. It's not like the Lord is ever, 'Sorry. We ran out of atonement.'"

I like that image. Christ, the righteous storekeeper, never says, "So sorry. Atonement is on backorder this week. Can I interest you in some Hell? Maybe a little eternal damnation."

Then we got to grace with this famous verse:
for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.

I asked what grace was and getting some sub par definitions had Nathaniel read from the Bible Dictionary:
A word that occurs frequently in the New Testament, especially in the writings of Paul. The main idea of the word is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.

It is through the grace of the Lord Jesus, made possible by His atoning sacrifice, that mankind will be raised in immortality, every person receiving his body from the grave in a condition of everlasting life. It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.

"Nathaniel, can you summarize?"

"Let's see. So grace is basically the magic love power of Jesus Christ."


"Yes. I think that about sums it up."

Monday, September 14, 2015

Genesis 42:8-9 "I will be a surety for him"

And Judah said unto Israel his father, Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go; that we may live, and not die, both we, and thou, and also our little ones.
I will be surety for him; of my hand shalt thou require him: if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame for ever:

I have, of late, been rereading the story of Joseph because... well... why not? It is one of my favorites.

This set of verses (42:8-9) today struck me when compared with Reuben's offer just the chapter before. The family was running low on food and needed to return to Egypt for more, but Jacob did not want to allow Benjamin to make the journey. (It seems he didn't exactly trust his boys.) But Joseph had made it very clear that no Benjamin equaled no food.

Reuben graciously offered his two boys (or two of his boys?) as a surety, telling Jacob that if something should happen to Benjamin, he could kill his boys. What kind of offer was that? (If they were teenagers maybe Reuben was like, "Please. Have at them." But in all seriousness...) It wasn't much of a pledge. Did Reuben really say that if harm befell Benjamin Jacob could kill his grandsons? And this was supposed to assure him?

Then Judah offered himself as a surety. And Jacob, albeit grudgingly, consented.

Earlier in our tale Reuben obviously was shifting some (most?) of the blame for selling Joseph to his brothers. "And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required." Was he rationalizing (or trying to rationalize) is guilt away? Perhaps he thus felt less remorse than his brothers; if so, maybe it's not surprising that he was willing to give less to assure Benjamin's safe return.

What are we to learn from contrasting these two? I think Judah's offering shows that his heart had softened. Where he had been a ringleader in Joseph's selling, now he is a leader in saving not only Benjamin but all of Jacob's starving family.

We also learn that showing you have skin in the game is important when you want to persuade people to listen to you. And finally... don't offer your (teenage?) sons as collateral; everyone can see through that.