Thursday, January 8, 2009

In His Footsteps

[J., you might have something to say about this, from another conference.]

Recent discussion... reminds me of something:

'The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it' ( Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 121).

One doctrine I have not seen much understanding of in the Christian world at large and to an extent even within the Church is the significance of the Resurrection, and specifically why it matters that Jesus not only died but also 1.) rose again and 2.) ascended into heaven. Jesus' job was not merely to overcome sin—if saving people from hell had been the point of the exercise we would have been served just as well had the Lord never planted the tree of knowledge in Eden—but to ascend into heaven to claim his Father's throne so that we, now possessed of knowledge, could do the same by following the way he provides.

Read Hebrews 1, for instance, which is a defense of and an exposition on the doctrine of exaltation. The structure of the early chapters of Hebrews is:

Chapter 1: Jesus, the Son of God, ascended into heaven and is sat down on his Father's throne. He is not an angel but a God.
Chapter 2: We are Jesus' brethren (& sisters) and can therefore become like unto him in all things, not angels but Gods.
Chapter 3 & 4: Having so great a promise, shall we not be faithful? Others in the past have taken the promises lightly and so fallen short.
Chapters 5 – 13: More good stuff.

All of this would be a non-sequitur had not Jesus already done exactly what it is we hope to do: become like unto his Father, and my Father, and your Father. That Jesus rose again on the third day and ascended into heaven is vital to the substance of our faith.


"The presentation or 'gift' of the Holy Ghost simply confers upon a man the right to receive at any time, when he is worthy of it and desires it, the power and light of truth of the Holy Ghost, although he may often be left to his own spirit and judgment." --Joseph F. Smith (manual, p. 69)

"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

No comments: