Are You on Earth to Prove Your Worthiness?

I’ve known for over a year that it was going to happen. Somehow, that didn’t make it any easier when the mobile butcher arrived and slaughtered our steer. When we bought this adorably cute miniature Angus I was fully aware that his purpose in life was to provide meat for our family. My husband, understanding how attached I get to all my critters, named him “Sir Tender Loin”. He did this so that every day I would have a reminder that one day Tender-Loin would be slaughtered and fulfill his purpose in life.

I’m sure glad my purpose in life isn’t that of Tender-Loin’s. Thinking about his purpose in life reminded me of when I was LDS. I used to believe that my purpose in life was to prove myself worthy. The reason I thought this was because that was what my church leaders had taught me. They claimed that Heavenly Father sent people to earth for the purpose of proving whether or not they would be obedient to His commandments:

“We lived in the presence of God our Holy Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, in a premortal existence. There we gained an understanding of the Father’s plan of salvation and the promise of help when we would be born as mortals on earth. The primary purpose of life was explained. We were told: “We will make an earth whereon these may dwell; “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them; “And they who keep their first estate [that is to be obedient in the premortal existence] shall be added upon; … and they who keep their second estate [that is, to be obedient during mortal life] shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.” Those words express the most fundamental purpose of your being on earth. That purpose is to prove yourself obedient to the commandments of the Lord and thereby grow in understanding, capacity, and every worthy trait.” Richard G. Scott, “Truth Restored,” Ensign, Nov 2005, 78.

Every time I looked inside my heart, I felt like a complete failure. I knew how unworthy I was. And, I thought I was the only person that was so sinful. When I looked at others in my Ward, I thought everyone else was worthy except me. Can you imagine the peace I found the day I learned that I wasn’t the only one who struggled with being obedient? It was actually the Holy Ghost that revealed this news to me, through God’s prophets and apostles. Their testimony declared His truth to me: No one can be worthy or righteous by their obedience. In fact, no one can even be “good”.

The LDS Apostle Scott taught that God sent us to earth to prove ourselves worthy. But in the book of Romans, Jesus’ Apostle Paul testified he had “proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin”. He then quotes Psalm 14 as evidence: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

LDS scripture claims that men must prove themselves worthy through their obedience; but God’s Word testifies that “there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). Jesus joined His testimony to this truth when He claimed “none is good, save one, that is, God.” (Luke 18:19). The Prophet Isaiah clearly told of the sad condition of all humans: “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (64:6). In one of Isaiah’s Messianic prophesies, he declares: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4-12).

Notice that last verse in Isaiah “and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Here we see our Savior’s purpose for coming to earth. He came to take our sins upon Himself—as if He Himself had committed each and every one. Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be “brought, as a lamb to slaughter” and that He would give “his soul an offering for sin”. Jesus came to earth to be slaughtered! He fulfilled His purpose at the cross, when “he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” We are healed through Christ’s sacrificial death, where every sin was paid for and forgiven. The Apostle Peter testified that all who believe it, receive it (Acts 10:43).

Do you still believe that the “fundamental purpose of… being on earth… is to prove yourself obedient to the commandments of the Lord”? On Judgment Day every person will stand before God. Many will be given the opportunity to prove whether they were obedient to God’s commands. All who point to their own works as proof they should be allowed entrance into God’s Kingdom will be turned away (Matthew 7:22-23).

My Angus steer was slaughtered to feed my family. My Savior Jesus was slaughtered to pay for my sins with His blood. I gave my life to Him the moment I believed in His free and full forgiveness. I now know that my purpose in life is to give all glory to my God, by all that I do. He alone is worthy!!!

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

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Till We Meet Again… At Jesus’ Feet!

I met Linda at church about thirteen years ago. Her deep love for God showed in both her words and her actions. The Holy Spirit gave Linda some amazing spiritual gifts and through these gifts she glorified her Lord with many works of love. I was drawn to Linda not only as my mentor, but also as my dear sister in Christ. Over the years she was there for me during times of trial as well as times of joy. Last May when she called to tell me she had terminal cancer, I knew I was going to miss her terribly. But both of us knew our parting would only be for a short time.

Throughout Linda’s illness her husband Rennie took wonderful care of her, showing his great faith and courage. Linda found out she had cancer the first week in May. From that time until she died, Rennie sent a weekly email giving a daily synopsis of Linda’s week. I’m so thankful that he kept all of us who loved her up to date with what she was going through.

Linda left this earth to be with the Lord on August 19th. As much as I miss her already, I can’t even begin to fathom how Rennie feels. Rennie and Linda were not only husband and wife, they were also best friends. They were married “till death do us part” (Matthew 22:27-30) but through faith in Christ, they will be together for eternity. I remember how surprised I was to discover that Christians believe they will spend eternity with loved ones who also have faith in Christ.

Three days before Linda died Rennie knew his time with her on this earth was coming to an end. In his weekly email update he included this little poem he had written, describing the emotions he was going through:

At times it is as if a heavy stone were sitting upon my chest.
At times I am as liberated as an eagle in flight.
I move from the darkest depths of an abyss to standing on a mountain top in the span of a heartbeat.
I am at once surrounded with warmth and love and alone in the universe.
We stand together at the threshold of forever knowing only one may cross it, for now.
For one, time will stop and it will be as an instant when the other joins.
There is only time, and there is time only for us.
Only the Lord knows when, and it will be the time that is best.

I could barely read his words to my husband Keith because I was crying so hard. Both of us were teary-eyed for quite a while, knowing how hard life would be for Rennie without Linda at his side. But we are also thankful that he has placed his trust in God’s will. We pray that he will find comfort in God’s amazing love and promises.

At church a few Sundays ago, we sang “God Be With You Till We Meet Again”. I had always thought this was a Mormon hymn, but years ago when we first sang it at my church, I did some research on it. I learned that it was written as a Christian good-bye in the 1880’s and was first sung in a First Congregational Church in Washington.

I love these words from the song, because I can’t wait:

Till we meet, till we meet,
Till we meet at Jesus’ feet.

Are You Tired?

My grandson Bryson recently started first grade. I’ve been a little worried about how well he would adjust; going from a half-day kindergarten to a full-day schedule. His Mom works late nights and so he isn’t used to getting up early in the morning. After his first day of school I called him to find out how it went. Boy did I get an ear-full. He didn’t like how long the day was nor did he like all the work he had to do. He complained for several minutes and finally I asked him “Wasn’t there anything you liked about school?” He replied “Well, there were four recesses”.

Sometimes I wish I had four recesses a day, especially at this time of year. I love gardening, but by the first of October I am usually plumb tuckered out. I have almost twenty fruit trees, grow vegetables and sell berries of all kinds. With all the picking, canning and weeding I’ve seldom had time to even cook dinner. Plus with all the health issues I’ve been having, this year has been extremely difficult. I have learned a new definition for the word courage. It takes courage to pull myself out of bed in the morning and courage to do even minimal tasks. Some days, I find it takes even more courage to just stay in bed all day. I grew up in a family with a strong work ethic and it’s difficult for me to admit that I simply can’t do everything that needs to be done. It isn’t that I don’t love everything I do, it’s just that I am physically exhausted and in pain most of the time. I would love to have someone tell me “Becki, it’s time for recess”.

Today, in a way, God did tell me it was time for recess. He speaks to me through His Word and I read in Psalm 23: “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Reading these passages restored my soul and slowed me down. It also reminded me of my life before I met my Savior. For almost three decades I was absolutely miserable because I could not find any rest for my soul. Year after year was spent pleading with Heavenly Father to forgive my many sins. I believed and trusted the words of my prophet Spencer Kimball. He claimed that gaining forgiveness depended upon my works and my ability to do everything required of me. But despite years and years of working for it, I did not receive the “positive assurance that the Lord had forgiven me”. My burden became too heavy to bear and I lost hope.

After that, it was another nine miserable years before I heard the wonderful message that God had already forgiven me through my Savior. Jesus had carried my burdens and in my place, had done all the works required of me to gain eternal life. I was dumbfounded when I learned that no one can gain forgiveness through their works of obedience! And, I learned that forgiveness is only obtained as a gift from Heavenly Father, given freely to the unworthy. All those years of pain and misery were unnecessary! But I didn’t know it, because I had believed the words of a false prophet; words that contradicted God’s Word. The Apostle Peter testifies that a person receives forgiveness through belief in Jesus. He also claims that all of God’s prophets bear witness to this truth! (Acts 10:43)

I now understand what my Savior meant when He said: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” All sins were forgiven when our Savior shed His blood and paid for our sins. When I learned this truth, my burden truly was light. I found rest for my soul through faith that what Jesus had done for me was sufficient! Now, instead of doing works to try and qualify for forgiveness, I am free to joyfully serve my Lord, simply because I love Him.

I can’t wait to enter God’s eternal rest and be with my Savior for all eternity. My dearest friend Linda died about a month ago. She is now in the arms of our dear Savior, resting from her life of service to God. John the Beloved wrote about how blessed she is: “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” (Revelation 14:13)

All who trust solely in Jesus will spend eternity in the very presence of God Almighty, in constant wonder and awe. I am looking forward to it, because “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)