This week saw a high point on Thursday, when we were able to meet with several people and found an investigator in our 20 minutes of finding time. We’ve had to start getting creative to meet with people often. Everyone in our teaching pool is very busy, and because of that, it is difficult for them to make appointments, no matter how bad they want to. Since several of them are masters and Ph.D students, we’ve started to say a prayer before we go out the door that we will be able to just run into them at the library, and so far it has worked 100% of the time. I guess the Lord wants it too! It just feels like everyone is still getting really excited and our investigators are starting to change inside. We are truly watching repentance happen before our eyes!
One investigator we are really excited about is M, a young polish doctor who is best friends with one of our favorite (not that we have favorites) members. He is intensely interested in the Plan of Salvation, and wants literally all of the facts. It felt a little strange at first to be outlining complex principles we don’t usually give investigators so early, but he loves it and as long as it is logically presented, he has no problem with it. What makes it extra fun is he wants scriptures for everything we say, not really to bash or anything, but just so we can outline it. It has been a testimony-builder to me to see how well the scriptures work together to explain and support the Plan of Salvation – if and only if you study it with the lens of the Restoration. Our member is also really enjoying it, and the Spirit is always very strong. It’s a very cerebral-type meeting , but a big development we have seen in M is he is willing to recognize now that it doesn’t have to be proved with science, that spiritual things are just a different area of truth. It has been fun, because he has a lot of the same questions I would have if I was investigating.
Tension is still mounting, and hopefully we will be getting some baptismal dates in the next few weeks with some of these awesome people.
Elder Allen is still progressing a lot – we have become very close. I really enjoy working with him. We make a good team.
It’s still annoying how difficult it is to have appointments, but every situation has it’s problems, and I’d rather have awesome investigators with very little time than the opposite.
This week in personal study, I really have found out for myself that the Plan of Salvation is true. (Okay, I’ve only studied the first half, but I’m just going on faith for the second half. 😉 ) It’s just amazing to see all the doctrine supporting exaltation, deification, a premortal existence, and the beautiful relationship between grace and works. Especially this last point has struck me lately as very poignant.
This one most Mormons know of:
James 2: 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
And this one:
2 Nephi 25: 23 For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.
Here is a less-known and apparently contradicting scripture:
Ephesians 2: 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Interesting. But actually, I think these scriptures work together beautifully when we look closely. We can unequivocally state that it is impossible to be saved on our own. We could not even make it to the telestial kingdom without the grace of Jesus Christ. (“Behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit” (D&C 19:16–18). After suffering for their sins, they will be allowed, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, to inherit the lowest degree of glory, which is the telestial kingdom. (Gospel Principles))
Sometimes, I think we see the scripture in 2nd Nephi and think of grace like a booster rocket. But we know that Christ is actually with us always.
We can imagine it like riding a bike. Those who would believe that through works we are saved are comparable to someone claiming the ability to ride a bike up Mount Everest. It is impossible, will never happen, and is basically hopeless at the very beginning.
Those who believe works aren’t necessary are like those who just ride in a car everywhere. Sure, you’ll get there, but you’re gonna get fat along the way. Talk about terrestrial glory!
But if we truly want to become the best we can be, that is, equal to our Father, we need something of both.
Like… a hybrid bike. Something where you are still pedaling, but when the hill gets steep, the engine makes sure you get there.
One of my favorite talks about the Atonement says
“Sometimes Christians get so excited about being saved by grace that we forget to ask if we have been changed by grace.”
Sometimes, Mormons get so excited about doing works that we forget why. It’s not to earn a spot into heaven by collecting enough gold stars, it’s helping us better ourselves, which is the whole point of life.
Phew. Got that off my chest.
You have a good week!