Thursday, December 22, 2011

Free Gift! Salvation

We were reading 2 Nephi 2 in our family scripture reading tonight. This is the famous “opposition in all things” and “men are free to choose” chapter. But my favorite verses come earlier in the chapter. Lehi speaks to Jacob, who as a young man has already had his own vision of the Savior, and says,

And thou hast beheld in thy youth his glory; wherefore, thou art blessed even as they unto whom he shall minister in the flesh; for the Spirit is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free (v. 4).

He states that the law does not justify anyone (in fact, the law cuts people off from God). But:

Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.

Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered (v. 6-7).

The ends of the law are only met through the redemption of Jesus Christ, the Savior. And to drive the point home:

Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise (v. 8).

From here, Lehi then expounds (now famously) on opposition – that the punishment brought by the law is required for the joy that may also come, and that those opposing forces are required in order for each to exist. Men are, after all, that they might have joy.

And the path to joy? Through Jesus Christ, of course:

Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit (v. 27-28).

Here’s where the concept of free begins to be developed in an interesting way. Salvation is free – that is, it is available to all. But men are also free, precisely because the Savior has made them so through his redeeming sacrifice. And, according to Lehi, men are wise to choose to follow the Savior.

Salvation: a free gift. As I ponder the Savior’s birth this week, I’ll surely also ponder this great gift.

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