Monday, March 9, 2009

Cover vs. Atonement

So, last night, I attended a fireside that was given by John Bytheway (JB). He is the MAN! Of course, normally when you think about John Bytheway, you think he's gonna give some talk about dating or missionary or the Book of Mormon. Last night, the he did not speak on dating, but he did speak on the other two.

So, the premise of his talk was about many critics' views of the LDS church being "not Christian". In particular, he spoke on the "Gap-Jesus" idea. Let me explain. In the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 25:23 says, "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." So, because of this scripture, many think that Latter-day Saints believe that we save ourselves through works, and then Jesus just kind of fills in the gaps.

This statement is NOT what we believe, and it is false. Although, I think that at points in time, some of us FEEL that way. We feel that we HAVE to be perfect in order to merit the grace and mercy of the Savior. I'm what people call a "perfectionist". I'm very hard on myself and try to do everything in my power to live the gospel, and I often get frustrated because I'm not perfect and continuallly fall short. However, through different trials and experiences, I humbled again and again to realize that I can NEVER save myself or anyone else, for that matter. The only person with the power to save us is the SAVIOR.

The thing I liked most about last night was JB's emphasis on the word atonement. According to his talk, the word atonement was originally translated from the Hebrew word that means "to cover". Now, here's where I thought it was really cool.

In the garden of Eden, Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, and Adam likewise partook of the fruit. By doing so, both were to be cast out of the Garden of Eden. Enter "Old Scratch" a.k.a. Satan. Satan, knowing what has just occured, tells Adam and Eve to hide and "cover" themselves becuase God will see their nakedness and won't like it. So, Adam and Eve freak out and grab a bunch of fig leaves and make coverings for themselves.

Enter God. God asks Adam what has happened (even though He already knows, but He creates a learning opportunity for Adam). Adam explains what happened and then God talks about coats of skins to "cover" Adam and Eve. Garment are the coats of skins that were made to "cover" Adam and Eve. But, you might ask yourself, "Where did these coats come from if there was no death until after the Fall of Adam?" Well, JB suggested that there was an animal sacrifice made (probably a lamb) to obtain the coats of skin for Adam and Eve... symbolic of the "covering" of our sins by the Savior a.k.a "The Lamb of God".

What does this teach us? Well, I notice that Satan told Adam and Eve to "cover" themselves. Well, we know that this, like all of Satans other suggestions, is a lie. We cannot cover ourselves from the blood and sins of this world. No matter what we do, we cannot hide or "cover" our sins from God. The only possible "covering" we could hope to obtain is through the Savior. God has provided the world with His only-begotten son, to "cover" or atone for our sins if we will just repent. Everytime we put on our garments, it's a reminder that the Savior has "covered" for us, so to speak.

I thought this idea was pretty darn cool. Hope you enjoyed it!